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Lamb’s FIBA summer shows he’s primed for breakout year


Jeremy Lamb emerged as a potential star during Connecticut’s run to the 2011 NCAA tournament title. The 6-5 wing showed off his scoring talents (24 vs. SDSU, 19 vs. Arizona), rebounding (nine vs. Kentucky) and his long arms made him a nightmare on the defensive end.

But Lamb passed on the NBA draft as some expressed doubts about his consistency and willingness to step into a starring role.

Those doubts don’t exist anymore. Not after his performance during Team USA’s U-19 FIBA tournament when he was one of the few in red white and blue who shined.

He dumped 35 on Lithuania – including the game-winner -- and led the squad with 16.2 points per game. Even when his shot wasn’t falling, he still made huge plays, such as tipping in his own miss in a fifth-place game against Australia.

Consider it good practice for the 2011-12 season when he’ll be UConn’s go-to guy. Kemba Walker’s gone, but the Huskies have plenty of talent.

And if Lamb’s ready to shoulder the load, they shouldn’t miss much. He sounds ready, too.

“I think I’ll have some difficult games. People are going to play me tough and it’s going to be a challenge. But I’m going to be able to get through it. Because of all the work I’m going to put in in the gym, I’ll get through it,” he told the Hartford Courant.

He says he’s working to improve his two biggest weaknesses – ball-handling and shooting on the move -- so he can get to the free-throw line more often. Makes sense. His FTRate last year was just 15.8, which is pretty low, even for a jump shooter. For comparison, Walker’s FTRate was 42.6.

Oh, and there’s one other area. Walker was the man for that, too.

“Really just being a leader on the team,” he told the paper.” Trying to lead, that’s one area I’ve got to grow in.”

After a summer like this, I’d say Lamb’s on his way.

You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.