"He feels that if he gets an opportunity and gets healthy, he can compete with those guys," Taylor said of Lane, who gave UCLA a boost off the bench with eight points and four rebounds during a 78-76 victory over Michigan State in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
Lane's postseason breakthrough was a rare triumph in a mostly frustrating season.
Really like hearing about the mindset of a kid not being afraid of competition. Taylor also brought up the idea of Lane red-shirting next season:
"It would allow him a whole year of conditioning and development, and it might free up that logjam," Taylor said, noting that Smith and Nelson are both candidates to turn professional after next season.
Taylor said Lane didn't discuss the possibility of redshirting with him, but the coach said he sensed Lane wanted to compete for playing time if he was given an opportunity. Even though Lane's season didn't go as he had hoped, Taylor said, he was still happy at UCLA.
Lane should red-shirt next season and use it to bulk up and improve his strength and conditioning. It will help him the way it did for Anthony Stover.
Lane still has a lot of upside and it will be better for his development to completely recover from all his injuries, when UCLA has depth up front. I wish Howland considered the red-shirting option for James Keefe too as he later admitted mismanaging his development at UCLA.
It will be interesting to track Lane's development. If he gets stronger and puts together consistent performances like the way he stepped up against Michigan State, he will finish UCLA with a strong note. He loves UCLA:
"He sees the whole package, not just basketball, as being part of his experience," Taylor said. "There are other things he chose UCLA for that might not mean as much to other kids, but they speak to how well-rounded and how good of a person he is."
Lane would also be in line to earn those much talked about BN initials. Given the drama from last three years, it will be ironic if it turns out Lane and Anderson are the two seniors who leave Howland's program on great note.
One guy, who will not make it to his senior year is Joshua Smith. There were rumors that he was sending out feelers to NBA teams. Smith's father "refuted" the NBA rumors this week:
"It's not true," Joshua Smith Sr. said by telephone Wednesday evening. "He's coming back. He's not going anywhere. He's got to be a good student and a good college basketball player first" before considering the NBA
Smith Sr. said his son would stay in Westwood this summer to work on getting in better shape. UCLA Coach Ben Howland has said he wanted Smith to drop his body fat to 12%.
Glad to hear Smith is staying. He will probably be around for just one more season. We hope Howland and his staff are already working to fill that anticipated gap in our roster through the recruiting class of 2012. They will need to keep recruiting elite talents in Westwood because it is expected from them to maintain an elite basketball program at UCLA.