The power forward has been compared to Kevin Durant by his head coach.
Nearly the entire Big East is chasing Jermaine Lawrence, and Syracuse is going “pretty hard” after the PF who has been compared to Kevin Durant. Lawrence, class of ’13, has received an offer from SU. Over 20 schools are looking at the junior standout, with at least 10 of those universities being league foes of the Orange.
The 6’9 power forward from Sparta, New Jersey posted big numbers in his shortened stint with Pope John XXIII High School, averaging 25 points per game, to go along with 12 boards and 8 blocks in just 8 contests. Lawrence transferred from Cardozo High School in mid-January due to academic reasons. Lawrence currently plays for New Rens, an AAU team in New York. Pope John head coach Jason Hasson told SportsNet New York there’s two Big East teams in the NYC metro area pushing for Lawrence:
“St. John’s, they’ve been coming pretty hard. Rutgers for sure. Syracuse was going pretty hard.”
Hasson also said Lawrence has the makeup of one of the best players in the world in Durant. He has the ability to handle the ball, shoot from the perimeter, and occasionally be fed in the post. Obviously, Lawrence would be a huge addition for Syracuse, especially with little depth at the PF position after Rakeem Christmas and incoming freshman Jerami Grant. In an interview with Hoop Group Elite, Lawrence summed up his ideal school.
“An environment I can get used to and a coaching staff where I can really fit in. Where I can find a strategy team to find my niche easily.”
Here’s what the Orange gain by adding a player of his caliber.
- Active shot blocking
Lawrence’s numbers show how dominating he can be on the defensive side of the ball. Adding a perennial shot-blocker to a front line with DaJuan Coleman down the road would cement a dangerous 2-3 zone for years. Coleman stands at 6’9″ as well, but DC 2.0 has the bulk at 280 pounds. Lawrence would add mobility at just 180 pounds. Rak may not still be around by the time Lawrence would be on campus, so JL and DC would be masters of the paint.
- Versatile scoring
He knocked down 13 three-point field goals in just three games in a recent AAU tournament in Philly. He can also get to the basket explosively. Lawrence is the complete offensive package. He’s a unique player who can challenge you from deep, play in the post, and block shots. What factors does Syracuse have going for it?
Lawrence transferred mid-season not just for basketball, but for academic purposes. While NYC area schools like RU and SJU are going after him, the Carrier Dome is still just a few hours from the Big Apple. The Dome is a no-brainer compared to the RAC or a 75% empty MSG. Plus, when competing against Big East schools now for recruits, Syracuse has the ACC card to play in its back pocket. How about a chance to play at the Dean Dome and Cameron Indoor as a freshman?
The Orange is now consistently bringing in top-tier talent, and the transition from Jim Boeheim to Mike Hopkins (if it happens over the next few years) will be smooth. SU will be moving to an exciting ACC, and Lawrence would bring depth to the front line and provide versatility on offense. The coaching staff puts together rotations that can both accommodate the player’s talent, and also yields victories.
While his game can be described as artful at times, so could his major. One of the reasons Lawrence transferred from Cardozo to Pope John was because of its availability of fine arts’ classes. He wants to major in it, and Syracuse has a very reputable VPA program. But the real message here is that Lawrence understands the concept of a student-athlete. We all know how this past March panned out when the Orange was without Fab Melo for the its tournament run. Guys who show persistence on the court, as well as in the classroom are necessary. Lawrence seems to have his mind in the right place in that aspect.
Posted: Brendan Glasheen