Lamb leaving UConn, headed for NBA Draft

UConn sophomore Jeremy Lamb made it official Tuesday afternoon. He’s leaving the Huskies to enter the NBA Draft.

“It was a difficult decision, but after much prayer and discussion with my parents, I feel that it’s in the best interest of me and my family to declare myself eligible for the upcoming NBA Draft and pursue my dream of playing professional basketball,” Lamb said in a statement released by the school. “I have very much enjoyed my two years at UConn, especially getting to experience one of the greatest feelings that a college player can have, winning the national championship.”

Lamb became just the sixth sophomore in UConn history to score 1,000 career points. His total of 1,060 points rank him No. 42 on UConn’s all-time scoring list. He is only the 11th player in UConn history to score as many as 600 points (603) in one season.

“It’s never easy to lose a great player from your program, but Jeremy has a unique opportunity that he needs to take advantage of,” UConn coach Jim Calhoun said in a statement. “He’s been a great kid to coach for the past two years … his teams have won 52 games, been to two NCAA Tournaments, and won a national championship. I look forward to him developing into a terrific player in the NBA and secondly, as he’s promised me, to come back and finish his degree.”

Lamb can’t “test the waters” with the possibility of a return to college, as the deadline for underclassmen to withdraw from the draft was today.

The 6-foot-5 Lamb led the Huskies in scoring this season by averaging 17.7 points. He shot 47.8 percent from the floor, though made a rather sub-par 33.6 percent of his 3-point shots.

“I have learned a lot, both on and off the basketball court as well as in the classroom, and I feel as if I’m ready to take the next step in my basketball career,” Lamb said. “I intend to successfully complete the current semester academically as I get prepared for the draft.”

The 19-year-old from Norcross, Ga., was named an honorable mention All-American by the Associated Press.

Lamb averaged a modest 11.8 points per game as a freshman but had a breakout March as the Huskies marched to a national championship. Playing alongside Kemba Walker, Lamb averaged 16.2 points in the NCAA Tournament and hit 58 percent of his shots. He was named to the NCAA All-West Regional team and the All-Final Four team.

Various mock drafts have projected Lamb will be taken as high as No. 6 overall and as low as the mid-20’s.

The NBA Draft will be held June 28 in Newark, N.J.

Lamb is the 14th UConn player to leave school early for the NBA, but just fourth after only two seasons of play. Caron Butler, Charlie Villanueva and Rudy Gay also left after two years at UConn.

UConn has never had a one-and-done, though freshman center Andre Drummond is currently contemplating just such a move.

Each one of the previous 13 Huskies to depart early has been drafted in the first round, with the exception of Khalid El-Amin. El-Amin was drafted with the fifth pick in the second round, the 34th overall, by the Bulls in 2000.

Underclassmen have until April 29 to declare themselves eligible for the draft.



About Neill

Neill Ostrout covers the UConn men's basketball team for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester. He has been a member of the "Horde" for more than 16 years.
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