There are just two regular season games left in Laney Lewis' illustrious Ursuline career. That's plenty of time to continue to pile up the numbers for the versatile -- and record-setting -- post player. Just this past weekend, she set an NCAA Division II record with her fourth triple-double of the season.
Lewis and her fellow senior class changed the landscape on the Pepper Pike, Ohio campus. When Lewis arrived on campus, Ursuline was undergoing a rebuilding process in every literal sense of the word. Not only had the Arrows never been to an NCAA postseason, the gymnasium was wiped out the season prior from a tornado. It didn't take much time for Lewis to make her mark. By 2016, in an arena all their own, the Arrows rewrote the history books and made the NCAA tournament.
"Coach [Shannon] Sword saw me in an AAU tournament," Lewis told NCAA.com of how she wound up at Ursuline. "I think Coach Sword saw my height and that I had an inside and outside game. She sold me on the rebuilding of Ursuline. I truly believed that I would be a big part of it. I wanted to be part of a program that was going to get on the map eventually. That was literally my goal, so I think I helped do that for sure."
The next season, Lewis dropped 16.1 points per game, while ripping down 11.8 rebounds a game and dishing out 4.2 assists. The Arrows made the NCAA postseason once again.
"That first year we started getting good, we just wanted to prove to everyone that Ursuline had the ability to do this," Lewis said. "After that, we were at the top, we wanted to ride it out and prove that we could hold this spot, especially atop the GMAC."
So, what's so special about Lewis? Well, for one the senior forward is an absolute beast of a presence in the paint. No one in DII has more rebounds the past four season than Lewis' 1,195, and heading into this week she's tops in DII with a 13.0 rebounds per game average. Scoring has never been an issue for her, either, putting up a career-high 19.0 points per game this season, and has a shot at becoming the top scorer in program's history.
But what's most impressive is how Lewis, standing at 6-foot-1, runs the floor for the Arrows.
"I come from a really small town," Lewis said. "We didn't have a lot of athletes on our team my junior and senior seasons. If you could imagine, I had to play point guard. I think that developed my dribbling and the confidence in doing that. But, in high school, I would bring the ball down, find a wing and then go post up."
Lewis not only leads the Great Midwest Athletic Conference is assists, her 6.8 per game are top ten in DII. To boggle your mind a little more, if you search out the Top 50 assists leaders in DII, there is one forward, just one student-athlete over 6-foot, and that is Lewis. She is the single-season assist leader in Ursuline history, already at 176 with those two games to go.
All that as one of the premier post players in DII.
Of course, there's all those triple-doubles as well. The first came back in November, a brilliant performance that Lewis scored 15 while grabbing 20 rebounds and addind 11 assists. The second was in December and the third was in January. She's fallen short of a triple double by just one assist on three other occasions this season. On February 17, Lewis went off once again, scoring 21 points with 17 rebounds and 10 assists. Her fourth triple double of the season put her in the record books with the most in a single season in DII history.
Senior Laney Lewis racked up her nation-best fourth triple-double of the season in an 80-67 win over Ohio Dominican on Saturday.— Ursuline Athletics (@UCArrows) February 17, 2018
She leads NCAA D2 in Rebounds and is sixth in assists. pic.twitter.com/MAxBTOOXk0
"You know, I have absolutely no clue that I'm pulling it off," Lewis said. "Obviously after the game I hear my stats. With me and Camryn [Hill] on the team, we have some double teams, and triple teams sometimes. So we definitely practice on our shooters spotting up, calling when their man comes to us, and being ready to shoot. Our teams been really good at that."
Lewis may be best known for her presence on the boards, pulling down 18 or more rebounds in six different games this season. She'll be known as one of the greatest scorers in program history, just 113 points of tying the all-time record. But for Lewis, it's the passing game that gets her amped. And that's what makes her such a special player.
"I think I get the most emotional and the most excited when I make plays for other people to be honest. When I bring their man to me, and they colllapse and I'm able to dish it out to my team, when they hit it, I get very, very excited for them. I love that feeling. I think our team loves that, it lets us roll and we keep going with it."
With her fifth assist of the first half, @UCArrowsWBB senior Laney Lewis becomes the all-time leader in assists in a single season in program history with 138.— Ursuline Athletics (@UCArrows) January 30, 2018
In 107 games in her career she has 391 total assists and leads @NCAADII with two triple doubles. @greatmidwestac pic.twitter.com/yiS1L6lxkm
Lewis will be working with the Women's Basketball Coaches Association's coaches program. It seems the next logical progression for Lewis, with he ability to see the floor the way she does and the way she dominates at so many different aspects of the game.
"I have some other options, but that's one of my top ones that I'm excited for," Lewis said. "I'm definitely welcome to any opportunity. I'm excited to network and see where my options take me at the [WBCA] program."
The Arrows are are 19-7 overall, tied atop the GMAC rankings with Cedarville. A win of the GMAC tournament locks up their third straight NCAA postseason bid, but they still have a good chance, recently ranked No. 8 in the tricky Midwest Region. A region that, if the Arrows want to make a deep run, will have to face a team of record-setting porprtions themselves in the Ashland Eagles. A team head coach Shannon Sword began her career with as an assistant coach.
"Oh for sure," Lewis said when asked if she watches the Eagles' games. "That team is awesome. To have that winning streak? [Wednesday] night, we were on the bus watching the game go in to overtime against Grand Valley State. That was an awesome game."
But when it's all said and done, it isn't wins, or the records, or the postseason accolades and honors (she's likely on her way to her third consecutive GMAC Player of the Year Award) that Lewis will take away from here time at Ursuline. She hopes she's made a greater impact on those around her, so that she'll be remembered for much more than some big numbers.
"My biggest thing, I want to be remembered as being enjoyable as a player and as a teammate," Lewis said. "When I'm playing, I enjoy basketball so much. I love the sport so much and I have so much passion for it. I want my coaches and teammates to remember that."