By Andy Lohman
Khris Lane gets to spend his senior season playing college basketball 20 minutes from where he grew up. The Richmond, Va. native and Benedictine standout will don the black and gold of VCU for the 2017-18 season. While he’s found his way back home, his path to the Siegel Center has been long and complex.
The forward started his collegiate career in Philadelphia at Drexel, playing just seven minutes across four games. To get closer to home and to get more time on the floor, Lane transferred to Longwood in Farmville, Va.
“Drexel was fun my freshman year, had a lot of fun there, love the city,” Lane said. “But just wanted to be closer to home, so I went to Longwood. They gave me a chance. I needed a chance because I didn’t have a lot of stats. So coach gave me a chance, I’m really appreciative for that.”
As a redshirt sophomore for the Lancers, Lane averaged 8.7 points and 6.2 boards in 33 games in 2015-16. Certainly not a bad stat line for his first full season of college basketball, but he knew he could do better.
That’s when it kicked into overdrive for Lane.
“I spent the whole summer in Farmville. I don’t know how familiar people are with Farmville, but it’s not somewhere where you want to spend your whole summer,” Lane said. “I only took one class, but I was just in the gym, spending a lot of time with the coaches. I just told myself I want this next year to be my best year. My scoring went up 10 points and my rebounding went up.”
His redshirt junior year in 2016-17, Lane led the Lancers with 17.1 points and 7.3 boards a game, and was honored on the All-Big South Second Team. The key to the transformation was making a point of being coachable.
“It’s important to be coachable. It doesn’t matter how good you are or how much talent you have. These guys are here to help you,” Lane said. “The more you learn how to listen, the more you open your mind, instead of being so closed-minded or stubborn, you’ll become that much more of a player.”
With that work, he’s become quite the player. Listed at 6-foot-7 and 245 pounds, Lane is certainly a presence in the post. He uses his size well to create shots down low, and power his way to rebounds. Against fast-paced North Florida on Nov. 13, Lane’s physicality resulted in 17 points and seven boards.
But he’s not just a big man. Lane stretches the floor with his mobility in the paint and his ability to step out and shoot the ball. During his Longwood career, he hit 50 three-pointers with a shooting percentage of .350.
Part of Lane’s journey was the decision to become a vegetarian. After an injury before his freshman season at Drexel, Lane got badly out of shape, making the already tough transition from high school to college basketball an uphill battle.
Lane, whose grandfather was a vegan who lived a healthy lifestyle, spoke with a vegetarian assistant coach about the importance of diet. After conducting significant research, he decided to make the switch. Since then, he’s noticed a positive change.
“I feel a lot better. Lighter, not bloated as much,” Lane said. “It’s really helped my game and also just my moods. What you eat really affects your mood and how you think.”
Everything came together for Lane as a player as everything came together for VCU as a basketball program. It turned into the perfect partnership.
“You know, I grew up here, so for me the perspective is a little different over the years,” Lane said. “VCU Basketball has always been a serious thing, but to see it on such a national stage now with the excitement and seriousness, all the money that’s put into it, it’s big-time college basketball now and I always wanted to play big-time college basketball. I always knew I had the ability, so to be able to do that right here at home is what led me to come back.”
Now that he’s back home, Lane is ready to step into a leadership role with the Rams. Not one to get too high or too low, he will be a battle-tested senior presence on the court.
“I may not always be the most vocal player,” Lane said. “Just [want] to be that anchor, to be that toughness for our team to lean on.”
Head Coach Mike Rhoades is already impressed with what he’s brought to the team.
“I’m really proud of him, he’s done a super job,” Rhoades said. “He’s such a great kid.”
In addition to leadership, Lane brings an extra level of hunger to this year’s senior class.
“I came here to win. I want to win an A-10 Championship, I want to go to the NCAA Tournament,” Lane said. “I look at Johnny [Williams] and Till [Justin Tillman] and us being the three seniors on this team, they’ve been to three NCAA Tournaments. I don’t think they take it for granted, but I don’t think they understand my struggle. I’ve never been to one in my life, even at Drexel when we had a winning season. So I don’t take any of this for granted.”