By Jon Cole
Citadel Basketball SID
Every college basketball coach across the nation dreams of finding that one person who will put your program over the top. They all search in the smallest of gyms, go through hours of tape, call their friends and say I need “that guy.”
The Citadel basketball program had “that guy” stroll through the door, as legend would have it, during the week of January 26, 2011. It was a week that the Bulldogs were set to play Appalachian State, Western Carolina and Davidson. Justin Argenal, then The Citadel basketball operations director, told “that guy” (aka Justin Lanham) that he could serve as the manager for the basketball team.
Citadel assistant coach Rob Burke had even gone so far, after the addition of Lanham, to convince head coach Chuck Driesell that he was in fact Davidson head coach Bob McKillop’s nephew and was there to spy on the team.
That was the only minor flaw with Lanham (one of his many nicknames), as Driesell and his staff might have seen it—“that guy” was a lifelong Davidson fan. He had witnessed his prized Wildcats make their trek to the 2008 NCAA Elite Eight that included victories over Gonzaga, Georgetown, Wisconsin (where he sat two rows behind LeBron James) before suffering a devastating 59-57 loss to Kansas where he was eight rows back of the team bench.
Lanham still knows, and emulates for that matter, everything about former Davidson star Stephen Curry. He shoots long range 3-pointers before and after practice and shouts out “wet ball” as does his basketball idol. Justin even follows Curry’s Warriors and their success to this very day.
An avid golfer, Mr. Lanham—as he prefers to be called—traveled to Scotland last summer to play one round at New Course at St. Andrews, one round at The Jubilee Course at St. Andrews and two rounds each at the Old Course at St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns.
Golf is only one of his passions, the others include his hometown Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Bobcats. During the first Panthers run to the Super Bowl, Justin was 12 years old, but he still has nightmares about John Kasay kicking the ball out of bounds on the kickoff in the waning stages of the game. He also has fond memories of Jake Delhomme and Stephen Davis carrying the team to its only NFC Championship, all while wearing a No. 30 Mike Minter jersey.
The other passion is being a personal caddie for fellow Davidson, N.C., native Will Gordon. Gordon is a verbal commitment to Vanderbilt and ranks among the top 25 junior players in the world.
The CEO, another nickname for Lanham, has aspirations of one day becoming a pilot—which dream with which Burke has major issues. “I would never fly on any plane that Lanham is the pilot,” said Burke. Mr. Lanham obviously loves airports and enjoying the luxuries of flying first class as he is constantly on the go to various places such as a recent N.Y. Rangers-Chicago Blackhawks game.
Named Mr. Basketball at McKillop’s basketball camp as a fourth grader, Lanham truly loves the game. It shows in the smile on his face when he is around all of the players including best friend Matt Van Scyoc. He and Van Scyoc are inseparable, with Lanham taking him to his first Panthers game during the 2013-14 season and the two spending time together at Matt’s home in Wisconsin this summer.
Lanham is truly “that guy” for Citadel basketball, earning him the title of basketball equipment manager. His duties include, but are not limited to, washing the jerseys, preparing the team in all phases from a packing standpoint for all road trips, setting up for video on the road, coordinating bus travel, daily setup for team practice (shot clocks in proper working order, basketballs on the racks, video is up and running, etc.).
Bulldog fans sit across from the team at McAlister Field House and see the basketball coaching staff dressed out in their suits. If they look a little further down the bench and see someone dressed in similar fashion it is certainly Mr. Lanham.