With only a couple of weeks remaining in the 2018-19 school year, many should expect high school seniors from across the country to start rapidly making their future decisions, if not done already. I remember stating in one of my articles last month, ‘Recruitment to the Next Level: Private vs. Public High School’ (4/19), that most of the student-athletes may view this last stretch of high school as one of the most nerve-wracking periods. It’s anything but uncommon for feelings of stress and/or possible anxiety to emerge in this time when deciding what to do for the next step: post-graduation. Nevertheless, it’s been a satisfying week for Richmond, VA to see a few special players finally announce their commitments for college hoops. Standout Prince George High School (Prince George, VA) veteran guard, Jajour Lambert ’19, is one of those in the bunch, as he officially chose Mid-Atlantic Christian University (Elizabeth City, NC), a participant in the United States Collegiate Athletic Association (USCAA), as his next destination. Like his peers, I’m sure the senior took a big breath of relief after completing the process.
In retrospect, the Prince George Royals had a season of quite a few accomplishments this past winter. After losing their entire starting lineup of seniors from the 2017-18 varsity group, head coach Travis Carr and his players pretty much locked themselves in the gym to work relentlessly and prepare to prove any naysayers wrong. The result? An overall record of 15-8 and another consecutive trip to the Virginia High School League (VHSL) 5B regional playoffs. I actually had a chance to cover Prince George’s final game of the year, as they took an 82-58 loss to the eventual regional champions, Varina High School (Henrico, VA), in the playoffs’ semifinal round. With his high school career now in the books, Lambert can reflect on the memories of his final year as a program member.
“I think my senior year went pretty good,” the 5’6” guard remarked. “We had a great group of guys and honestly I wouldn’t trade them for anyone. I’m glad we won and lost together because it made us grow and come together. My favorite moment of the year had to be when we beat Hopewell High School (Hopewell, VA) in a Christmas tournament. We wanted that win and our hard fight allowed us to end up with the dub.”
Man, I definitely remember that Prince George-Hopewell matchup on 12/28/18. It ended up as one of the most thrilling games I had a chance to cover last season and the Royals escaped with a 55-53 victory. The team’s will to win couldn’t have appeared any more evident than it did during that particular night.
Taking on more of a scoring guard role, Lambert provided a great amount of exciting highlights for the Royals. He has extraordinary quickness and control with the ball that makes him difficult to contain, especially in the open floor. If ever faced against a full-court press, sometimes the best option for Prince George involved just handing the ball over to their senior guard and letting him break pass defenses himself. Once he got into the paint, he typically did well in dishing to open frontcourt teammates for easy finishes. Even with this noteworthy court vision, Lambert’s shooting range stands out as one of his best assets, in my eyes. He has DEEP range on his shot; I can recall him making multiple three-point attempts from around the volleyball line throughout the season. Defensively, his quickness mainly helps in gathering steals quite often; more so in pass interception. The prowess in shooting and playmaking skills turned Lambert into one of Prince George’s go-to guys, offensively, and earned him a nod on the 5B All-Region third team. Not a bad way to go out for your final outing of high school.
“I’m going to miss everything about Prince George basketball: the atmosphere of playing in that gym, the crowd, my coaches…just everything and everyone who was a part of this program, really.”
Upon departing from his tenure as a Royal, Lambert also deemed Coach Carr as one of the biggest influences in his development throughout the years. Prepping for the incoming challenges of college ball, he’ll make sure to remember some key areas of learning that undoubtedly transition over from high school into the next-level.
“It’s honestly the small IQ stuff I’ve been taught since my sophomore year, such as: don’t dribble to the corner (laughs), escaping a double-team trap, and making sure to always look up while dribbling. Still, it’s not just all basketball information, but also skills I’ll need for the rest of my life. This involves responsibility, accountability, and leadership.”
Having now joined two of his 2019 school teammates, Patrick Gee ’19 (North Carolina Wesleyan University) and Jeff Jackson ’19 (Averett University), Lambert stands as the third Royal in this season alone to further his playing career. Most should know the recent success Prince George has attained in sending players to the college level for the last several seasons. This especially impresses when considering the fact that none of the three prospects even started last year on the 2018 senior-heavy roster. In terms of his own picking and choosing, Lambert used the early spring, concluding the winter season, to think things through.
“Mid-Atlantic Christian was my choice because I felt it had a good atmosphere to be around and would help me continue to keep my Christian faith. Back in March, I took a visit there and discovered it was a small, good-looking university. There’s a pier where you can relax, do homework, and chill with friends. Personally, growing up in Prince George, I like a small community where everyone knows each other; Mid-Atlantic reminds me of this. As far as the academics, I want to be a lawyer in the future. So, I’ll be taking classes that will prepare me for law school.”
Finding the right ‘feel’ for a future home always proves as one of, if not, the most imperative areas in decision-making. I’m glad Lambert could determine the promise of what Mid-Atlantic Christian had to offer and hope other available players in the 2019 class will do the same; taking time to see opportunities in an in-depth manner. In addition to the chill vibes of the North Carolina campus, I’m sure the potential of early playing time also attracted Lambert’s attention during his visit.
“Well, the team’s point guard recently left so that opens up a possible opportunity for me to start the next four years. We’ll have to see, but right now I’m just working to keep strengthening my game. I actually don’t focus on just one or two things…I want to improve a little of everything. Consistency in shooting, my handle, my passing, conditioning, and more.”
I’ve read a quote in the past stating to aim at “getting 1% better at everything you do each day.” It sounds like Lambert’s taking the right steps in his approach to become an effective guard who can produce for all 40 minutes once he enters Mid-Atlantic’s program. Being able to transform from a streaky shooter to more of a dead-eye one will be highly important for him to become a notable scorer in these upcoming years. Skill improvement will continue to show as the weeks pass by but, at the moment, Lambert should simply try to enjoy his last remaining month as a high schooler.
“School’s been good! I’m still flabbergasted that I’m only a month away from graduating and leaving Prince George…it all happened so fast. We actually have a senior trip to Busch Gardens coming up too.”
My advice to all of the young ones: definitely DO NOT rush your high school experience. Cherish those moments, specifically during senior year. College is fun too, of course, but nothing’s quite like high school. Lambert’s done some great things as an electrifying product in the 804 and I’m excited to see his next journey continue to unfold once he arrives to Elizabeth City in the fall.
Now then, where does Jajour Lambert see himself in ten years?
“Ten years from now, I see myself waking up every morning to a beautiful family in a good house with nice cars; getting ready to go to court that morning to defend someone.”
High school graduation is right around the corner…good luck to Jajour and the rest of the 2019 class as they finish things out strongly!