A year ago, Jeremy Lamb was just trying to find his niche as a freshman at a big-time college basketball program. He begins his sophomore season as an AP preseason All-American, a grizzled veteran after his role on the Huskies' national title team, plus a summer stint on the U-19 U.S. Men's National Team.
Lamb is UConn's de facto leader now that Kemba Walker is gone, and based on his demeanor and his game, there's no reason to think he's not up to the challenge.
"Coach always says, you're known by the 'company you keep,'" Lamb said, via the Hartford Courant. "It's an honor to be recognized with such great players." He's joined on the preseason All-American squad by unanimous selection, Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger; North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes, who made it as a freshman; Kentucky’s Terremce Jones; and the lone senior, Wisconsin’s Jordan Taylor.
It's high praise for Lamb, who struggle to find his role during the first half of his freshman season (not unlike most freshman), but once he got comfortable, the points came in bunches. The timing couldn't have been better; the Huskies, like Lamb, didn't have much of an identity until late February. But once the roles were defined and embraced, we witnessed some high-level basketball. Everything came together in the postseason when UConn won 11 straight, including the Big East and national title games.
Coach Jim Calhoun likes to point out that there are no defending champs, just teams playing their schedule. Which means that the Huskies, like everybody else, are 0-0 and looking to win their next game. You get the sense Lamb feels similarly.
"Preseason honors are nice," he said. "But starting this week, we all get to prove it on the court."
There was actually some discussion following the Huskies' championship that Lamb might leave Storrs for the NBA. Thankfully, he stayed and the threat of an NBA lockout may have had something to do with that. So on behalf of Huskies fans everywhere, thank you, corporate greed.
That said, enjoy the 2011-12 season because if it comes close to resembling what we witnessed a year ago, Lamb will most certainly be out the door next spring. And it'll be hard to blame him.