June 27, 2017
By Matt Winkeljohn | The Good Word
– It still takes work to find the parts of Ben Lammers that go beyond basketball, mechanical engineering and sleep, but the pace of summer leaves enough space around Georgia Tech’s ascendant center that he’s deviating from his routine.
He’s expanding his horizons much like he’s working to grow the skill set that earned him second team All-ACC honors and made him defensive Player of the Year. Specifically, Lammers is trying to extend the range of his shot, and his ability to get off the floor more quickly in situations calling for multiple jumps.
Off the court, with just one lab class, the 6-foot-10 rising senior has more time for his beloved naps, and he’s branching before of his last lap around The Flats.
“You do have more time to do stuff. During the year, you might have like a Saturday or a Sunday off, but you’re usually pretty tired so you don’t feel like going out and doing a big adventure,” he said of the differences between fall, winter and spring vs. summer.
“I have explored around Ponce City Market. And there’s a cool junk shop, ‘Paris on Ponce,’ near there. There’s a cool park area near where people [raft the Chattahoochee River],” and I hike there, spend time outside.”
It’s 50-50 whether anyone who might encounter Lammers upon the trails or near the wetlands of the Chattahoochee Recreation Area will know him.
He continues to sport an unassuming look, and grins a good bit.
Simply, Lammers has become one of Atlanta’s tallest hikers.
Make no mistake, though, he’s excited about one more season in McCamish Pavilion, where he’ll be much more recognizable after a splendid junior season in which he was second in scoring for the Yellow Jackets (14.2 points per game) behind rising sophomore Josh Okogie (16.1).
He also led Tech in rebounding (9.2) and blocked shots (3.4), and he’s working at all of the above and more. Yet Ben has a knack for sounding as much like a hiker as a hoopster.
“Obviously, you saw what we did last year compared to what people were expecting, so there’s a little more motivation to keep up with expectations, especially because I’m a senior, apparently, which is interesting,” he said.
Really, there are more layers to Lammers than ways he sounds off.
On the hardwood, he’s aiming to add range to a jump shot that stretched to 17 or 18 feet last season to complement a solid post game. Lammers might even throw in an occasional 3-point shot.
“Basketball-wise, I try to make that [range] a little better, hopefully,” he said. “I would really like that, but we’ll see how I look at the end of the summer and how that fits into the rest of the offense.”
In the weight room, strength and conditioning coach Dan Taylor and assistant athletic trainer Richard Stewart are working with Lammers to make him a more active jumper and to tighten up his shoulders.
“[Taylor] is working more on a quick jump. I have a pretty good single, but he’s working on making multiples,” he explained. “Plus, my shoulders are really flexible. They’re both loose, but I’ll notice the right one first.”
Having been home to San Antonio once, for about a week, after spring semester, Lammers will return next month for the wedding of his older sister, Allie. He might visit in August, before fall semester, but that is TBD like so many parts of Lammers’ life.
His parents, Chris and Linda, gave him a book, and the war buff is reading it intermittently. He can’t remember the title, but really likes the book, “about how all the Nazis were on drugs. It’s kind of interesting . . .
“It wasn’t just the Germans. I think the French got two bottles of wine every night. They were just drunk. I like reading about stuff like that. You’re not going to learn about it in elementary school.”
Well, no, probably not.
Unlike Okogie, who recently offered a scouting report on the newest class of Jackets, Ben’s not sure of such details. He simply trusts head coach Josh Pastner and his staff to bring aboard quality student-athletes.
He’ll fiddle later with details.
“I’d say I’m pretty much the polar opposite of Josh,” Lammers said. “I don’t even know most of the guys’ names. It’s not that I don’t care. I trust them … I’m just terrible with names and faces. When the freshmen come in, there’s like a little bit of panic because I have to learn all the names …
“My freshman year, I didn’t know anybody, and I didn’t look up the roster or anything. I was going in blind, and I didn’t say some people’s names for the first week and a half because I was scared I was going to get it wrong.”
Lammers rarely gets anything wrong in class.
Hoping to take an mechanical engineering degree next summer, or one semester turned in somewhere down the line after next spring, he has an especially manageable summer schedule.
“I’m doing a research thing,” he said. “You shoot [Rayleigh] waves at a little piece of metal, and you’re able to look at the micro structure of it. One of the purposes to see if something is breaking before it has any visible breaks. The lab is for circuits, kind of like electronics.”
The bell lap has begun, and Ben’s actually fired up about it.
“This is my last go-round, last chance to work out as a Georgia Tech student; I don’t think that’s going to sink in until halfway through the season,” Lammers said.
“I definitely am looking forward to this because I think we have grown the fan base, and people are a little more excited about this year. I’m hoping we’ll be able to keep that going.”