LONG BEACH Departed UCLA guard Tyler Lamb has found a new home at Long Beach State. After officially enrolling in classes for the 2013 spring semester, Lamb joined the team for practice on Wednesday morning.
A teammate of UCLA's Wear twins at Mater Dei High School, Lamb played two seasons at UCLA, averaging 5.8 points and 2.3 rebounds while playing a key role as both a strong distributor and defender.
Lamb, who averaged 9.0 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.8 assists playing in all 33 games with UCLA last season, was expected to make an even bigger impact until arthroscopic left knee surgery in October limited him to just one game for the Bruins this season.
His injury, which was originally suffered in July 2010, as well as a crowded backcourt influenced his decision to leave the program.
I didnt want to waste my junior year just barely playing due to recovering, and I just felt like things werent going for me there, said Lamb. I think it was a good move, UCLA has been real supportive.
Lamb now becomes the fifth Division I transfer in the past two seasons for Dan Monsons 49ers and the fourth with major-conference experience. Lamb will join Dan Jennings (West Virginia), Tony Freeland (DePaul) and former high school and AAU teammate Keala King (Arizona State), all of whom will still be on the team when he becomes eligible at the semester break of the 2013-14 season.
Its a great feeling," said Lamb. "I think its going to be magic once we get out there.
Lamb had been considering San Diego State in addition to Long Beach State, but several factors, including a proximity to his Ontario home, influenced his decision to choose the 49ers.
It was just the best fit for me, said Lamb. The final deciding factor was that (Long Beach State) had everything that San Diego State had to offer me and they were closer to home.
And while San Diego State had the national ranking and the stature of the Cinderella favorite, Lamb was more impressed with the difficult and at times brutal schedule that is a signature of Monsons. He stated a desire to play for a program that was established yet continues to grow, saying that Long Beach is one of top programs on the rise.
They play all the top teams and thats another thing that really attracted me to this school because I want to play against the best, said Lamb. Being in Coach Monsons system allows me to do that and still play our game and play uptempo. I like that.
Last season, the 49ers knocked off two top-25 teams en route to a Big West Championship and their first NCAA Tournament berth since 2006. This season, Long Beach is currently 10-8 and holds a first place lead in the Big West with a 6-1 record.
Earlier this season, Monson, a former coach at Minnesota and Gonzaga who is now in his fifth season with the 49ers, had to integrate Freeland, King and Loyola Marymount transfer Edgar Garibay into the mix at the break after all but swearing off D-I transfers.
I went from swearing off mid-season transfers to swearing off multiple mid-season transfers, joked Monson. The jury is still out on whether or not its going to work this year, for this team.
But for Monson, it was Lambs character and his desire to succeed both academically and athletically that convinced him he would be an asset.
Originally, we werent going to do it, but when I met with Tyler and his dad, I just was impressed with his vision, his maturity and why he was (transferring), said Monson. We never talked about minutes or shots, just being a better person, a better basketball player and just getting a degree."