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Former practice player Tod Lanter hopes to contribute for Cats before his career ends

It’s not often a UK men’s basketball player can fly under the radar, but that is what happened to redshirt junior walk-on guard Tod Lanter during his first season as a Wildcat.


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Lanter first joined the team as a practice player just before the start of the 2012-13 season before earning a spot on the roster.


He made it through his first season with just one media appearance, an interview with John Calipari’s official website.


“If I’d have been thrown right into this from the jump it would have probably been a little more intimidating,” Lanter said with a laugh in a one-on-one interview with KyForward in September.


Tod Lanter appeared in six games during his first season at UK. (File photo by Jon Hale)

Tod Lanter appeared in six games during his first season at UK. (File photo by Jon Hale)

Lanter was no stranger to the UK basketball family. His father, Bo Lanter, played for UK from 1979 to 1982.


Tod opened his collegiate career at Gulf Coast State Community College, where he averaged 2.6 points and 1.2 rebounds per game as a freshman. He sat out the 2011-12 season while considering what his next step would be before eventually deciding to join the Wildcats.


“This opportunity just kind of opened up right before school started, and I had to make a decision,” he said. “Do I take a scholarship at a smaller school or a mid-major or do I come to the University of Kentucky?


“At first I wanted to take some time to think about it because why would I pay for school when I can get it paid for. Then the more I thought about it, the more I was like ‘What am I doing?’ You know? This is Kentucky. This is the prominent basketball school in the country. By coming here, I’m going to be the best player that I could have possibly been by the time my college career is over.”


Lanter saw action in six games as a redshirt sophomore at UK. He grabbed two rebounds in nine minutes on the floor but did not convert any of his three field goal attempts.


Still, Lanter hopes to contribute on the court before he leaves Lexington. At 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, he looks the part of a Division I athlete.


“It would be nice to step into a role like that, and obviously that’s my goal,” Lanter said. “You’ve got to strive for something. But at the same time, look at the talent around this room. My goal is to push everyone to be the best player they can be. If they’re the best version of themselves then we’re going to reach our goal.”


Lanter does not have to look far for an example of a walk-on who eventually became a contributor at UK.


Senior guard Jarrod Polson arrived at UK as a walk-on before earning a scholarship and carving out a significant role of the UK bench as a junior.


Even if he does not follow Polson’s career path, Lanter knows he can only benefit from emulating his attitude.


“He’s going to do his role to the best of his ability and walk off the court and forget about it,” Lanter said. “Because there’s nothing you can do about it if you’ve done your best. Look how it’s benefitted him, look where he is now. He’s on a full ride. He played the biggest role he could have asked for last year.”


Lanter has not yet decided what he wants to do after his basketball career ends, but after spending five years in college he thinks he will have plenty of options.


He knows being a UK basketball player can provide opportunities after basketball as well.


“I’ll be in school long enough to get a couple degrees and figure it out,” he said. “Being here is going to open up a lot of doors for me, whether that’s basketball, coaching or business wise. I get to be around a bunch of different people, a bunch of different athletes, a bunch of different coaches and personalities and everything. I’ll build relationships with people and see what happens.”




In the weeks leading up to the 2013 UK men’s basketball media day KyForward is previewing the season with a series of stories about the Cats resulting from interviews with players and head coach John Calipari from September. You can see all the stories in the series here.

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