GREENSBURG – Two things pop out when watching Lane Sparks play basketball: his high motor and overall skills.
“He’s a complete basketball player,” Greensburg coach Stacy Meyer said. “He can shoot it; he can drive it; he can pass it; he can rebound it. A lot of times you see kids in today’s game where they’re a great shooter, or they can drive it but can’t shoot it. He can do everything.”
The stats back up Meyer’s assessment. During his junior year, Sparks averaged 21.0 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.2 steals per game.
Sparks, a 6-foot-2 guard, has been a varsity starter every year for the Pirates. He’s scored 1239 points and grabbed 446 rebounds in his career.
It’s no wonder Sparks will continue playing at the next. He signed with Huntington University on Wednesday in Greensburg’s gym lobby.
“We’re super excited about Lane,” Huntington coach Kory Alford said. “He’s a perfect fit for us. He’s a competitor on both ends of the floor and his overall playmaking will be a huge asset for us.”
Huntington is a private Christian school located southeast of Fort Wayne, approximately 2 1/2 hours from Greensburg.
Alford, 28, is a first-year coach with family ties to the state. His father is Steve Alford, who played for the Indiana Hoosiers and is now the coach at Nevada.
The younger Alford, who played for his father at UCLA, was named coach of the Huntington Foresters in April. Sparks said the Huntington coaches watched him play at an AAU game during the summer. He took a campus visit, and that was all it took.
“I fell in love with campus, with all the guys, and the coaches are awesome,” Sparks said. “I knew it was the place I should be.”
Being it’s a Christian university was also very important to Sparks.
“It’s a really good campus where I can learn and grow my faith and become stronger in Jesus Christ,” he said.
Huntington competes in the NAIA and is a member of the Crossroads League. The Foresters went 14-16 last year, but are off to a 5-0 start this season.
Parents Ryan and Kelly Sparks said their son has put in the work to get to this point.
“We’re proud of him,” Kelly Sparks said. “He’s worked very hard for this day. We think Huntington is a good fit for him.”
Having made his collegiate plans official, Sparks feels like he can concentrate solely on helping the Pirates.
“It’s a burden off of me. It feels good,” Sparks said. “I can concentrate on the big goal this year, winning state.”
Sparks’ career highlight came last season, when the Pirates won the sectional title (they also won it his freshman year). Their campaign was cut short, however, when the COVID-19 pandemic struck before they got to play at regional.
Once again, their season is on hold for the moment while Decatur County remains in “Red” status.
When they’re able to resume playing, Sparks and his teammates will have one focus.
“Try to finish what we started last year,” Sparks said. “Hopefully we can get it done this year.”