When basketball tryouts rolled around in November, freshman Isaiah Lamb envisioned himself being a solid player on the JV.
His prediction was partially correct.
Lamb, who can play both guard and forward, did perform well enough in the preseason to earn himself a starting spot in the season’s opening game against Lansdowne—only it was as a member of the varsity squad.
It didn’t take Lamb very long to grasp that he was competing against players of a different level. Just minutes into the game, he tried to dribble by a defender who forcefully snatched the ball right out of his hands.
However, as immediate as Lamb’s reality check was, his response was even swifter. A few plays later, Lamb broke up the court on a fast break and jammed home a dunk that echoed in Franklin’s hallways long after the ball pierced through the net.
“The whole school was talking about it,” senior forward Cyril Nuworsoo said. “That play right there showed me that he’s not an ordinary freshman.”
Even at just 15 years old, Lamb clearly has all the measurables. An athletic 6’2, he possesses the size and frame to muscle up against opponents as many as three or four years older than him. He controls the tempo on offense, communicates well on defense and hustles up and down the court relentlessly.
But, even with all of those attributes, Lamb’s teammates and coaches say that it’s his maturity that puts him over the top.
“For a 15 year old, he’s a very mature kid,” head coach Kieran O’Connell said.
“He’s gotten a lot of praise. He’s walking through the hallways and a lot of kids are looking up to him right now. He’s been taking that responsibility on and staying within his game and most importantly helping the team anyway he can.”
Averaging just over 10 points per game, Lamb ranks as the Indians’ third leading scorer. He’s started in all but one of Franklin’s games—and that’s because he sat out the entire contest with an illness.
Lamb picked up a basketball for the first time when he was seven years old, but says he didn’t really start taking the game seriously until he was around 12 and on his first AAU (Amateur Athletic Union) team.
However, there was never any question that the sport was for him.
“I like how the game is in your hands,” Lamb said. “Like, in football there’s a lot of other players on the field. In basketball, you got the ball, you make the choices and the game depends on the choices you make.”
Lamb believes that the choices he made during preseason practices are what helped earn him a spot playing prime minutes on the varsity.
In tryouts, Lamb impressed the coaching staff with his willingness to share the ball and not try and force the action—a common mistake among young players simply trying to do too much to make a roster.
“I didn’t shoot too much and I didn’t shoot too little. I made a lot of nice passes,” Lamb said. “In tryouts a lot of people try and take it themselves, make shots themselves and never really pass the ball. I passed the ball a lot and let my shots come to me.”
Over the course of the season Lamb is continuing to develop as a player and wowing those that share the gym with him along the way.
Nuworsoo spoke toward how you’re more likely now to see Lamb giving up his body to dive for loose balls, not just in games, but in practice as well.
“To be honest, when you look at him in practice, you would never think he was a freshman because of his work ethic, how he hustles and stuff like that,” Nuworsoo said.
“You can see he’s kind of getting the hang of playing on varsity. The scary thing is he’s only a freshman. So what’s going to happen when he’s a senior? I’m most definitely going to come back and see him play in the future.”
It may be too early to tell what the future holds for Lamb, but between his unselfishness and his humility, O’Connell sees great things on the horizon for his freshman stud—through high school and beyond.
“He’s a very humble kid, comes from a great family and I think he sees the bigger picture already and he knows what he’s going to be able to do,” O’Connell said. He’s definitely hungry and he’s still humble, which is good.”