Last Ball in U-Hall: Jeff Lamp Lit It Up

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Virginia’s Jeff Lamp was a two-time All-American (photos courtesy UVa Athletics Media Relations).

A two-time All-American and team captain of the Virginia squad that went to the Final Four in 1981, Jeff Lamp helped bring the University Hall faithful to its feet numerous times during his four-year playing career.

Lamp’s fondest memories, however, come from the times when all of the arena’s 8,000-plus seats were empty.

“I have a million memories of running the stairs there in the empty gym,” Lamp said. “I think of the summers practicing and hanging out with my teammates.”

It was during those times that Lamp and the Cavaliers were able to put in the work necessary to take UVa to the next level. When Lamp arrived in Charlottesville in the fall of 1977, the Cavaliers had only made one NCAA Tournament appearance in school history, a 69-60 first round loss to DePaul in 1976. The Virginia program had been in existence since 1905, but had never won a national postseason tournament game. If Lamp wanted to achieve any significant team success at the college level, he needed to start from the ground up.

Coach Terry Holland, who was hired in 1974, laid the foundation for the program’s success early in his tenure. He coached the Cavaliers to their first NCAA berth in his second season and then discovered a recruiting gold mine only a year later in Kentucky. Holland and his staff found 6-foot-5 forward Lee Raker at Ballard High School in Louisville. After Ballard Coach Richard Schmidt was hired by Holland as an assistant, it didn’t take long until Lamp, Raker’s teammate, agreed to join his friend in Charlottesville.

“I just loved playing for my high school coach so much and playing with Lee that I started considering Virginia,” Lamp said. “I committed to them fairly easily. I knew with my coach and with Lee there, we would be successful.”

Another high school teammate of Lamp’s, 6-foot-8 forward Terry Gates, joined the Louisville contingent and the three