Maryville College's Randy Lambert ended his historic 39-year career in a big way, as the veteran coach was named the South Region Coach of the Year by D3hoops.com.
Lambert led the Scots back from a 1-4 start to earn the squad's second-consecutive USA South Athletic Conference Tournament Championship and a third-straight 20-win season.
"It's always an honor to be selected by your peers," the head coach said. "I hope they did it based on the team's merit and not because I'm retiring. I think it says a lot for our entire staff. Knowing that I was on my way out, I tried to give my assistants more responsibility this year. They responded very well to anything that I asked them to do. It clearly is a staff and a team honor."
Lambert led the Scots to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances in 2018 and 2019, as he was joined on the regional list by senior guard Calvin Songster – a Third Team All-South Region honoree.
Following MC's 1-4 start, the head coach led Maryville to 20 wins in the next 23 contests to claim the USA South crown.
"It sure makes the decision to retire a lot easier," Lambert said. "Hopefully, nobody is going to say, 'That ole boy should have quit five years ago.' There's no question that at the beginning of this year, I didn't know that we could ever be in a position to compete for a conference championship. The players responded extremely well in the changes that we had to make. They always seemed to play well in a big game for us to put together the three-consecutive [tournament] victories. To win a conference championship, it was really special."
The tournament championship gave Lambert his 12th overall conference title that includes one Old Dominion Athletic Conference Championship, nine Great South Athletic Conference Championships and two USA South Athletic Conference Championships.
MC has also won a trio of USA South Regular Season titles since joining the league in 2012.
"It's just a great accomplishment for him as he's heading out," Associate Head Coach Raul Placeres said. "I think that's probably his last accolade as a coach, and what better way to be recognized in the entire South Region as the top coach for the year. Obviously, there were a lot of other coaches that merited that. A lot of it had to do with our success, but a lot of it was also the respect that Coach has garnered over the years within the region. I thought it was a really special move for all the coaches in the South Region to vote him as the South Region Coach of the Year."
Lambert ends his storied career with a 722-325 mark. He holds a .689 winnings percentage across his 1,047 games coached.
The former Scots' standout advanced to 20 NCAA Tournaments at the helm of his alma mater, while tallying 20 seasons with 20-plus wins overall.
Lambert's 722 career wins ranks him 37th All-Time across all divisions – Division I, Division II and Division III. Notable names the coach is ahead of is Rick Barnes, John Wooden, John Calipari and Don Haskins on the list. He ranked 15th nationally amongst active coaches by wins at the end of the 2019 season.
By Division III standards, Lambert's numbers are even more impressive. He's just the eighth Division III coach to eclipse the 700-win plateau and only the fourth across all divisions to do so at his alma mater.
Lambert ranked fourth in Division III amongst active coaches and sixth all-time with his 722 career victories.
Following Lambert's final season on the court that bears his namesake, he said he's taken some time to look back on his career.
"I've done a lot of reflecting," Lambert said. "I've threatened Raul numerous times that I'm going to come back. I'm looking forward to this next chapter of my life. Hopefully, I can continue to have an influence on young people in some capacity. We'll just see where God sends me in my next direction."
Lambert hands the reigns of the MC program to Placeres – his Associate Head Coach – following the 2018-19 season.
The duo has coached together for the past eight seasons, as Placeres said that time has been special with the reigning South Region Coach of the Year.
"With the two that I played under him, it's a total of 10 years together," Placeres said. "We've had a great ride. We've been to five NCAA Tournaments in those 10 years together – two as a player and three as a coach – so we've had a lot of success. We've had a lot of fun, and I've been blessed to be by his side and learn so much to prepare myself to become the head coach. I'll miss him, but I know he'll be around."