Before Isaiah Lamb tore his ACL on Jan. 16, the Marist men's basketball coaches told him he was their No. 1 recruit. After the Dulaney senior's injury, that message remained the same.
"They were supportive," Lamb said. "They told me to keep my head up. I was getting that from a lot of coaches. But they told me I was still their No. 1 guy. Just because I injured myself, they wouldn't stop recruiting me."
For Lamb, that support combined with an excellent visit to the Poughkeepsie, N.Y., campus last weekend was all he needed. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound wing committed to the Red Foxes on Tuesday.
"They were ecstatic," said Lamb, who also held offers from Siena, Winthrop, Radford, High Point, UNC-Greensboro, Loyola, St. Francis (Pa.) and Morgan State. "[The coaches] stopped practice. They just put practice on pause, told all the coaches to come over and put me on speaker. Then they passed the phone around to the players. They congratulated me and I just felt welcome."
Dulaney coach Matt Lochte said Marist sent multiple coaches to Timonium for multiple practices and multiple games. The staff, led by first-year coach Mike Maker (a disciple of Michigan head coach John Beilein), told Lochte that they loved Lamb's versatility, his explosiveness, and his coachability.
"He's as explosive as any player I've ever coached. He's by far the best athlete that I have ever coached," Lochte said. "I think he's got an unbelievably high upside ahead of him. His high school career was cut short due to injury, but I think he's just going to absolutely explode in college. I think he's just going to do wonders in the MAAC conference and do wonders for Marist."
Lamb, who transferred to Dulaney from Franklin before his junior year, was averaging 25 points, 12 rebounds and five assists for the Lions before his season-ending injury earlier this month. Though it's a devastating blow to the team, Lochte is looking forward to having Lamb on the bench as an assistant coach for the rest of this season.
"It's only going to help prepare him for the next level," Lochte said. "He was playing unbelievable basketball. [Being a] 17-year-old kid, [this is tough, but] two or three years from now, this experience is going to help him. … [The Marist coaches are] excited to see him in his new role."
Lamb was told that he could play the 1, 2, 3 and maybe even the 4 in Marist's up-tempo, Princeton-influenced offense. Though this season is a rebuilding year for the Red Foxes (2-18 overall, 1-9 MAAC), Lamb believes he and the other incoming recruits are a perfect fit for what Maker wants to do.
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"It's going to fit my game as far as attacking the basket, getting screen and rolls," he said. "It gives me a chance to play my game. It's not really a certain offense where I have to change my game. It fits my game and I can decide to shoot, pass or drive to the basket. Also, he's looking for lob players – he knows I can go up and get it."
Lamb, who plans to become a physician's assistant, was featured in an October Sports Illustrated article about homeless high school athletes. He said his living situation is now "stable" and that he and his family are "having a good life."
But needless to say, earning a scholarship was of the utmost importance to his entire family. When Lamb began his official visit to Marist on Saturday, he felt right at home.
"I'm grateful," Lamb said. "I'm glad that I can go to college for free. That was the ultimate goal – to go to college without any grants. Marist is a really good academic school. My parents are very excited about that. … [On my visit] I felt as though I was going to have a future [beyond] basketball."