Friday, May 15, 2009

Scouring The Land For Lamb

Doron Lamb plays at a smurf-small school with Paul Bunyan-large, lofty hoop expectations. He's far away from home, in the woodworks of Mouth of Wilson (VA).

While the Brooklyn native is no longer under the pressure-cooking, microscopic media magnet of New York City, the school situated in the Appalachian Mountain community on the cusp of North Carolina holds an elite, traditional basketball bloodline.

Oak Hill has launched the likes of Stephen Jackson, Carmelo Anthony, Rajon Rondo, DeSagana Diop (a tree-tall big who arrived at the school sushi-raw) and Josh Smith to careers that sooner or later landed them in the NBA spotlight.

The gym seats only about 250, comfortably, but the national exposure is second to none. Perhaps the most storied NBA factory in the country, Oak Hill is a perennial power. Year after year, Oak Hill plays a national schedule that features trips across the nation.

It didn’t take long for Lamb to register his presence in the New York City basketball culture.
His coming out party occurred while he was a spindly sophomore playing for Bishop Laughlin HS (Brooklyn, N.Y.).

During his stay at Loughlin (lawk-lin) , Lamb played alongside vaunted West Virginia forward (and Long Island City native) Devin Ebanks.

It was a cold January night and the gym at Holy Cross HS (Flushing, N.Y.) was jam-packed. It was standing room only by the time the first quarter buzzer went off.

All eyes were pasted on Holy Cross’ young scoring machine Sylvan Landesberg, who concluded the 2008-09 campaign one of the top freshman scorers in the land at Virginia.

Prior to the much-anticipated match-up against Holy Cross, Laughlin thoroughly discussed strategic methods to put the clamps on Landesburg. It was a tall task that became more daunting after forward Jayvaughn Pinkston was suspended for the game.

While Landesburg turned in a titanic performance (36 points to lead Holy Cross to a gritty overtime victory) Lamb left his fingerprints on the game.

He erupted for 29 points and kept Bishop Loughlin within striking distance.

Loughlin worked overtime until Holy Cross fended them off, gutting out a wild win during the waning moments.

Lamb buried crucial buckets and went eyeball-to-eyeball with Landesburg in an instant NYC classic.

“I remember he hit like seven straight shots in one quarter that night,” said James Johnson, the then senior point guard.

“I just kept feeding him, he kept knocking down shots. He’s a quiet assassin.”

While he may be quiet, there’s a loud ruckus being made about the 6-foot-4, 175-pound off guard’s next step.

Lamb is a highly sought after item on the recruiting marketplace, with a plethora of Big East schools competing for his services.

“I mean, everyone is after him,” said NY Gauchos’ director Mo Hicks, who is also the coach at Rice HS.

“Right now it’s really like a who’s who of high major Division-I coaches. Everyone is after him. He’s a talented kid, man, he’s going to have a lot to choose between. As of right now, I can’t pinpoint any main schools he’s considering. He’s not really going to narrow it down yet.”

Hicks added, “Kentucky is beginning to show some interest,” referring to newly-minted head coach John Calipari.

Calipari followed the paper trail to the bluegrass, where he’s expected to revive a program that suffered a downslide.

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