Port Allen native Ishmael Lane has made his dream of becoming a professional basketball player come true.
Lane signed with the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins out of Japan’s top professional league.
After mulling over his options, the former Port Allen and Northwestern State star decided to head to Asia to continue his playing career.
“It felt like it was a good decision,” Lane said. “I talked it over with my family and my trainer and it seemed like a good place to go.”
Lane led the Southland Conference in rebounding as a senior, averaging 11.3 per game. He finished his Northwestern State career with 1,467 points, which ranks ninth, and 842 rebounds, a total that ranks eight, on the Demons’ all-time list. Lane had 169 blocked shots, which is third-best in school history.
His streak of seven consecutive double-doubles last season was the longest streak in the nation. He averaged 13.8 points and 2.2 blocks on the season.
“I got better every year,” Lane said. “I look back and I have no regrets.”
The brand of basketball is different in Japan’s B. League, but Lane said his game is suited for his new team.
“Overseas is a more physical style of basketball,” he said. “I’m a physical player. That’s what the team likes and that’s what I bring. They’re getting a hard worker, someone who’s going to give it 110 percent and someone who is humble. I’m not a trouble maker so I’m not someone they’ll have to worry about.”
Lane said he has spent the last two summers playing in three different countries: China, the Czech Republic and Spain.
Those experiences helped him get a sense of basketball overseas and the differences in the way the game is played in the United States.
“Playing in China shocked me a little at first,” he recalled. “Once I went there and played, it shocked me with how physical the game was played. Overseas, it’s more team-oriented. Everyone swings the ball around. It’s not too many people going one-on-one.”
It didn’t matter where Lane decided to play, he said he knew he would have the support of the Port Allen community.
“It’s been a lot of love shown,” he said. “Port Allen is a small city and everyone knows about their own. They’ve always supported and congratulated me.”
Port Allen head coach Derrick Jones said he’s gotten to know Lane over the course of the two seasons he’s been coaching the Pelicans.
“Ish is a phenomenal person,” Jones said. “I’ve gotten a chance to get to know him during his breaks from school. He would come workout and play open gym with us. He’s just a really good kid, hardworking and respectful. Everyone who knows him says nothing but great things.”
The Dolphins can expect to get a player whose game is similar to Denver Nuggets’ forward Paul Millsap, according to the 22-year old.
Lane is a stretch four who can play outside as well as the inside and guard the biggest player on the other team. Like Millsap, Lane is adept at blocking and altering shots at the rim.
When asked whether the NBA was the ultimate goal, Lane said his goal was to play professionally anywhere but would shoot for a chance to play in the NBA if the opportunity presented itself.
“It was about being a professional (for me),” Lane said. “Whether you’re in the NBA or overseas, you’re still a professional. It shows kids in Port Allen and in Natchitoches that if you work hard, you can do it.”