Since joining the Big East over 7 years ago Mick Cronin has really only landed one truly exceptional big man recruit. That player was Yancy Gates. His presence inside for the Bearcats between the 2007-08 and 2011-12 seasons gave Cincinnati a threat year in and year out in the paint. They had the luxury of always knowing #34 would be there to own the glass on any given night. But since Yancy graduated and went to Europe, Cincinnati has been left with more questions than answers for their interior players.
Well now they have an answer in Jermaine Lawrence. After plugging holes with temporary fixes in Cheikh Mbodj and David Nyarsuk Cincinnati has finally landed that elite prospect that has eluded Mick Cronin. It goes without saying that the UC head coach earned this one, as he has been shadowing Lawrence for years now, putting in the time and effort to show the young man that he truly wanted him to wear red and black during his college career. Now Mick has finally reaped the rewards of his efforts by landing a player that not only instantly upgrades the talent on the roster next season but opens doors for UC to land more elite prospects in the future.
Lawrence will be able to sign his letter of intent, officially inking his commitment to Cincinnati, beginning on April 17th.
|Height - Weight||6'9", 200 lbs|
|High School||Pope John XXIII|
|247 Sports||***** - 98|
|ESPN||**** - 88|
It’s easy to see why Jermaine Lawrence was one of the most highly sought after prospects in the country. He has a very long wingspan that allows him to attack any ball thrown up around the rim. His shot blocking abilities had to have a defensive-minded coach like Mick Cronin drooling. He’s very much like Justin Jackson in that sense but seems to be able to turn it on whenever he chooses. Furthermore, he seems completely in control when going up for shots or grabbing rebounds. This comes back to his athleticism. Lawrence is simply the best player on the floor each and every time he steps out onto the court.
And I think he knows it.
On the offensive end I’m extremely impressed with his slashing abilities. A player of his size can sometimes fall into the habit of slowing down and overpowering defenses with his sheer height and length when he gets inside the three point line. But Lawrence attacks the basket at full speed, splitting defenders and going up tall to get the ball above the rim and give himself a high percentage shot. A player with this subtle but important mindset is something that Cincinnati has been missing from their big men for years.
Lawrence is an intriguing player. He’s tall enough to play around the paint but athletic enough to slash his way to the rim if needed. Next season the Bearcats lose Cheikh Mbodj among the players who occupy the paint. But the task of replacing him will probably fall on the shoulders of David Nyarsuk and Kelvin Gaines. Lawrence will likely compete with Titus Rubles and Justin Jackson for playing time at the 3/4. With their experience I think Mick will favor them ahead of the incoming freshmen at the beginning of next season.
However, I can’t envision a scenario where Jermaine Lawrence doesn’t eventually start for the Bearcats or at the very least see 15 – 20 minutes of playing time each game next year.