CBKB: Kentucky gets commitment from top high school guard
By Jerry Tipton
NEW YORK — Kentucky gained another high-profile recruit in a high-visibility setting Saturday night as guard Doron Lamb committed to UK in Madison Square Garden.
With an ESPN crew and various photographers gathered in a corner of the court, Lamb spiced up the Jordan Brand Classic all-star game by announcing his college choice.
Lamb announced his decision during the second television timeout of the second half.
During a comparable time in the first half, Josh Selby announced for Kansas over Connecticut, Arizona, Tennessee and UK. "That's the best place for me to mature and get to the next level," Selby said in a brief television interview played over the MSG sound system.
The recruiting service Rivals.com rates Lamb No. 21 on its list of high school seniors.
Lamb, a leading light for high school powerhouse Oak Hill Academy, joins point guard Brandon Knight, wing Stacey Poole Jr., and big man Enes Kanter in UK's incoming class.
"A really strong collection," Jerry Meyer of Rivals.com said of UK's class. "All four can play different positions.
"Lamb will give them an outside scoring dimension that will make them better."
Kentucky remains in contention for two other players in the Jordan Brand Classic, forwards C.J. Leslie and Terrence Jones. Earlier in the week, Leslie said he might announce his college choice this week while Jones said he planned to reveal his choice either April 23 or 30.
Steve Smith, the Kentucky native who coaches Oak Hill Academy, considers Lamb one of the best shooting guards he's coached.
"I don't know if I've had a two-guard any better," he said.
Smith placed Lamb with Nolan Smith of Duke as the best shooting guards he's coached in 25 seasons at Oak Hill.
Lamb, who pronounces his first name Dah-RON, averaged 22.5 points, 5.3 rebounds and 4.2 assists for Oak Hill this past season. He made 52.6 percent of his shots (36.9 percent from three-point range) and 78.5 percent from the foul line.
When asked to describe his game, Lamb said, "Crafty, smooth. Do everything."
Smith saw Lamb as a throwback to an earlier era.
"I just describe him as an old-school guy," Smith said. "Today, all the guys shoot three-pointers and catch the ball for dunks. He has an in-between game. He's got a great intermediate game, which a lot of guys used to have."
Lamb is not one-dimensional in his scoring, Smith said. The Oak Hill coach said Lamb had an ability to catch-and-shoot, come off screens for shots and create scoring opportunities off the dribble.
"He can get his own shot," Smith said. "That's what college coaches like about him. Doron's the whole package."
Lamb is a native New Yorker who attended Bishop Loughlin High School through his sophomore year. He played his final two high school seasons for Oak Hill Academy, in part, because he wanted to improve his academic standing.
"Great fit for me," he said of UK. "A winning program. A powerhouse team. Somewhere where I could focus on my school work and basketball."
Kentucky, which battled Kansas for Lamb's affection, had an advantage in that two assistants, Orlando Antigua and Rod Strickland, are native New Yorkers.
"When they talk to me, they talk like my father," Lamb said.
Lamb also likes Calipari's dribble-drive offense.
"I think I do that offense very well," he said. "We did that at Oak Hill."
Lamb credited the rural setting of Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., as a reason he developed his perimeter shooting and scoring.
"I just worked out every day before school," he said. "I worked on my mid-range game with Coach Smith. That's all we have to do is play basketball. There's nothing else to do."
Smith declined credit for Lamb's perimeter skills. He noted Lamb's work ethic, which the player had to develop.
"He came as a junior and we had to get him to work hard," Smith said. "Everything had come easy for him. We had to get him to turn it up a notch (and) be serious about it. This year he's completely changed. He'll do it on his own."
Smith did not anticipate Lamb as a so-called one-and-done player.
"I would hope the people at Kentucky would appreciate that," the Oak Hill coach said. "Can you (re-load) every single year? That's asking a lot.
"If he's taken in the first round, he'll go in the draft. But he's talked of going three or four years."