Indian Hills head basketball coach Hank Plona watched Devontae Lane play a game at Iowa City West in early January. He was immediately sold on the 6-foot-1 point guard who plays in a running back’s body.
And last Tuesday, Lane was sold on Indian Hills during a visit to the Ottumwa campus. He committed to the national junior college basketball powerhouse via Twitter late Thursday night.
“Now I don’t really have to worry about what’s going on next year and where I’m going,” Lane told the Press-Citizen on Friday. “So it’s just nice being calm for once and knowing what’s going on in my life.”
Lane was also considering Des Moines Area Community College and Kirkwood for basketball, as well as Iowa Western for football.
Indian Hills recruits nationally (and internationally), but Plona said Lane is the first player he targeted for his 2017 class.
“So obviously, we’re sold that he could be a key contributor next year, whether that’s a starter or coming off the bench,” Plona said. “We’ll see how the team shakes out. But obviously, we would not be trying to bring him down here if I didn’t think he could be a major, major impact guy as a freshman.
“And I expect him to be that.”
The Ottumwa college churns out NCAA Division I talent like it’s nothing. Eleven players from its 2015-16 roster transferred to D-I schools. That total includes Providence’s second-leading scorer this year, Emmitt Holt, and Baylor’s Nuni Omot.
“We want guys that are really dead-set on trying to do whatever it takes to be a Division I basketball player,” Plona said. “We try to run our program just like a Division I basketball team. So we want kids that are all about that.”
Lane certainly fits that mold.
“I just knew that they had a good rep for sending guys off to D-I after their years were up,” Lane said. “I think that I have D-I talent, so being in the right places at the right time is what it was all about.”
The Falcons, who play home games in the on-campus Hellyer Center, advanced to their second National Junior College Athletic Association Division I tournament in three years this season, finishing 29-5 and losing in the first round to Monroe College of New York.
Lane averaged 14.9 points, 4.1 assists, 3.6 rebounds, 3.1 steals and just 1.6 turnovers per game this year as he helped lead West to a Class 4A state title. He shot 51 percent and 36.4 percent from long range this year.
Those numbers last year, when Indian Hills started seriously monitoring Lane: 43.3 and 31.1.
“(The improvements are) a testament to how hard he works and the time he puts into the game,” Plona said.
Lane grew up playing on the AAU Barnstormers with current Indian Hills forward Brady Ernst, who attended Clinton.
Matthew Bain covers preps, recruiting and the Hawkeyes for the Iowa City Press-Citizen, Des Moines Register and HawkCentral. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @MatthewBain_.