Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
HOUSTON — While one Lamb brother will take the national stage Saturday night in the Final Four, the other faces an uncertain future.
Zach Lamb, a 6-foot-4, 180-pound wing out of Miami Dade College and the older brother of UConn freshman Jeremy Lamb, does not know where he will play his college ball next season.
Zach initially signed a Letter of Intent with Manhattan in November, but the school fired coach Barry Rohrssen last month.
Manhattan is now considering Rhode Island College coach Bob Walsh, Louisville assistant Steve Masiello, Rutgers assistant Van Macon and Manhattan assistant Scott Padgett and could make an announcement as early as next week.
“I was actually sort of surprised,” Zach said Friday in a phone interview, referring to Rohrssen’s firing. “When I talked to him he was excited about the next year for when I came in. It was just surprising. I woke up one morning and my coach just called me and told me and I was very surprised. I was shocked.”
A Manhattan spokesman said the school has not received an official request from Zach requesting a release.
“I still have my options open right now,” said Zach, who averaged 13 points last season at Miami Dade. “There are schools that have contacted me but there’s nobody that’s offered yet, so I’m not really sure right now. I’m still hearing from more schools.”
He added: “I would love to come to the New York area, the Jersey area. I love it up there. I’m not sure yet, though.”
Zach and Jeremy played together at Norcross (Ga.) High School, but as a sophomore Jeremy was on the JV. As a junior, Jeremy was the sixth man and played behind several older, more experienced players.
“My junior year, I was playing behind my brother and two other seniors,” Jeremy said here Friday. “Yeah, I didn’t play a lot and I didn’t really have a lot of responsibility. I just came in and just shot the ball. If things didn’t go right, then I would go out, coach would take me out. I didn’t have much
Jeremy grew from 6-1 to 6-4 between his sophomore and senior seasons, and became more of “the man” after his brother and seniors Denzail Jones and Taariq Muhammad departed.
“The next year I had a lot more responsibility, had to work hard in practice, just really be more of a leader,” Jeremy said. “So, you know, I actually had to focus on making my shots and just leading the team ’cause if I wasn’t doing something right, then the whole team would take after that. Yeah, I just had to play more of a leader role.”
Zach said his brother’s “work ethic” improved dramatically after he left.
“After I had left and the other guards left, it opened a lot up for the guards that were coming in,” Zach said. “And so he was the star guard when the other guards left.”
Still, Zach could never have imagined that his brother would turn into Kemba Walker’s running buddy and UConn’s No. 2 option as the team has won 10 straight to win the Big East Tournament title and march to the Final Four.
“It gets me excited,” Zach said. “I’ve been growing up, playing with him all my life so it was like, ‘Wow, I didn’t think he was going to do all that.’ He’s going crazy right now.'”
Jeremy is averaging 11.1 points and 4.3 rebounds, but has come on strong in the postseason. He scored 24 in the win over San Diego State and 19 against Arizona in the West Regional final.
“He got a lot more mature,” Zach said. “His mindset is way better than it was in the beginning [of the season]. I just think he’s mentally tougher and more confident.”
He added: “I’m extremely proud of my brother. I’m so excited for him.”
Zach and his family will be rooting Jeremy on for the Final Four.Rolando Lamb, the boys’ father, hit a last-second, game-winning turnaround jumper for VCU against Jim Calhoun’s Northeastern team in the first round of the 1984 NCAA Tournament.
“He talked about it a little bit, but not really,” Zach said of his father.
Whether Zach gets to play in the NCAA Tournament himself remains to be seen. Wherever he lands, he hopes to make an impact.
“I’m the type of player that I do the job that I need to do,” he said. “If somebody needs to score I’m going to score. If somebody needs defense, I’m going to play defense. I’m just somebody that will do whatever needs to be done.”
Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.