COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. -- Jeremy Lamb is confident Jim Calhoun won’t retire just yet.
It’s not that the freshman with a national championship under his belt necessarily has inside information on what the Hall of Fame coach is going to do. He and his teammates can just sense it.
“We don’t think it will be this year,” Lamb said. “Because we can make another run next year.”
The presence of Lamb is a big reason why Calhoun will likely hold off on spending the post-Kemba Walker era looking for his next round of golf. After America got to witness the rise of the willowy Lamb during the NCAA tournament, he took to the international stage and became one of the stars of the FIBA Under-19 World Championships in Latvia.
Walker might have left for the NBA, but Lamb decided to stay in school and is proving he has the ability to transform from sidekick to go-to guy. He led Team USA in scoring (16.2 ppg) and coach Paul Hewitt ran the offense right through the 6-foot-5 guard. Lamb poured in 35 points in an overtime win against eventual gold-medal winner Lithuania and also had the game-winning tip-in against Australia on Sunday to help clinch fifth place in the tournament.
“When he gets it rolling, then it’s easier for him to manufacture shots one-on-one,” Team USA coach Paul Hewitt told reporters after the Lithuania game.
While Walker lit up arenas with his swagger, Lamb does it with an expressionless face. He speaks softly and seemingly shrugged off his recent scoring exploits. His passion appears to come from within, and averaging 16.2 points during the NCAA tournament run helped further the idea that he can carry the Huskies as a sophomore. Lamb scored 24 points in a Sweet 16 win against San Diego State and totaled 24 points and 16 rebounds in the Final Four.
“It not only gives me confidence, but it gives our whole team confidence,” Lamb said. “I got confidence in them. They got confidence in me. We went through a lot last year. It gives us confidence going into this year. We’re going to lose a couple people, but for the most part, we’ll all be back.
“Everybody knows they just have to step up. After we won, we celebrated a little but then everybody got back to work. We have to pick up the slack because we’re losing a big scorer, a big energy guy and a big defensive player. Everybody has to play their part.”
Lamb said he considered declaring for the NBA draft after winning the national championship, but decided after speaking to his parents that he needed another year. The Georgia native is spending the offseason working on creating his own shot. He hopes Calhoun will come back to see it for himself so the Huskies might experience another championship run together.
“It’s been great for fans and the people of Connecticut,” Lamb said. “It’s just been a great feeling to make the students and the school proud.”