Roane returns to the Lions sidelines

Assistant Coach Kyle Roane, in the middle, was the Director of Basketball Operations for University of Southern Mississippi last season, but his love for recruiting and desire to be a hands-on coach brought him back to the sidelines with Head Coach Jay Ladner for the 2017-18 season. Courtesy of Sports Information

ill be back on the sidelines under Head Coach Jay Ladner for this upcoming Lions basketball season. Roane left the Lions after the 2015-16 season to be the Director of basketball operations at Southern Mississippi.

However, the job did not fulfill Roane’s passion for the sport of basketball.

Roane said, “As good as an opportunity that it was, I struggled with the NCAA restrictions that the director of basketball operations cannot be an on-the-floor coach and cannot recruit away from campus. Those are two areas that I truly love, and I define coach by those words. Not that the director of operations is not a coach by any means. You are kind of removed from the on-the-floor basketball development and off-the-court recruitment.”

Ladner was the one that offered the chance for Roane to return after one season at Southern Mississippi.

“When coach Ladner gave me the opportunity to return to Southeastern and be an assistant coach, I was super excited and obliged,” said Roane. “I said yes as quick as I could and rejoined the staff.”

Roane helped to recruit most of the current roster and was able to groom some of the players into what they are today.

“It’s a very unique situation,” said Roane. “It’s been a very seamless transition. I credit a lot of that to coach Ladner. It was a really warm welcome by the players. This is a group of guys that I do have a special connection with because I was on coach Ladner’s original staff and helped bring a lot of these guys in. Even though I was not here last year, I did keep a close eye on them and the growth of the program. I’ll be a very small part of the success that they will have, but I will enjoy watching the growth of us as a group and of each individual kid.”

As a recruiter, Roane has specific aspects that he looks for in each athlete that he recruits. Along with the physical skills, an athlete must also be responsible off the court and in the classroom.

“We want to look for obviously talented players,” said Roane. “There is a skill level that you have to have to be a Division I basketball player. Secondly, you have to have high character. You want to have a kid that you can trust in situations on the floor and off the floor, young men that want to better themselves and get an education while they are here. We have a criteria that we want with Lions basketball players that coach Ladner has formulated.”

Roane further explains factors that he considers during recruitment. 

“Sometimes we are looking for size or certain types of perimeter guys,” said Roane. “There are so many factors that fall into the recruitment of a student-athlete, but some that you always want are the physical skills, the character, the toughness and eagerness to better himself in the classroom and on the floor.”

The Lions boast an experienced roster this season, and it could be a sign that they are preparing to make a push for the Southland Conference title and the National Collegiate Athletic Association tournament.

“I wish we all could tell the future, but I think our team is a very mature team and experienced team,” said Roane. “Does that truly guarantee us success? Absolutely not. I do think that it puts us in a position to be prepared for what our league will throw at us. We have a number of guys that have been through the league and has excelled in the league. We have a chance to have that collection of guys on the floor. We want to win our league and win our tournament. Every team wants to make it to that tournament. It’s the dream that coach Ladner has shared with the players.”

Roane highlights his coaching career by the relationships that he has developed over the years.

“I get to watch players reach goals that they never thought that they could reach,” said Roane. “As a coach, sometimes we are supposed to help kids reach things that they never thought they could attain. The frustrating part is to see athletes not reach the goals they set for themselves. Just being able to watch kids develop and being able to talk to them years later or short term and working with a great staff is the rewarding part of it.”