By William Wolkoff: Host of Sports Blitz, Bearcat Blitz, & Programming Director
Last week was a great week for Bearcat Nation. UC took care of business on the hardwood defeating two teams they were supposed to beat, which included Rutgers at home and Seton Hall on the road. However, perhaps the best news for the Bearcats came off the court.
Last Sunday, the #19 ranked recruit in high school hoops announced that he will be playing his college ball at the University of Cincinnati next year. That man is PF Jermaine Lawrence from Pope John XXIII High School (Sparta Township, New Jersey). The ranking is impressive… but Lawrence’s 6-8 size is even more intriguing.
Last season, the Power Forward averaged 18.6 points, 13 rebounds and 6.5 blocks in eight games for Sussex County School. Although he’s been missed twelve games this season because of injury, the PF has still managed to tear up the stat sheet in the games he’s played in so far. In four games, he is averaging 16.5 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.0 blocks and 4 assists per game. The scary thing is that he only seems to add more elements to his game everyday.
Lawrence’s size and speed makes him a constant threat in the paint, and dangerous in transition. He’s shooting 55% from the field this season. This 6-8 PF can also help on defense. He has 19 blocks in the four games he’s played this season, with 10 of them coming in transition. A great shot-blocker on a Big East team is a must (which Mick Cronin always looks for while recruiting); Think about how PF Justin Jackson single-handidly bailed UC out against Rutgers with 6 blocks last week.
It should also be noted that UC has done well with New York City talent. Former UC standouts Kenny Satterfield (Rice High School NY) and Lance Stephenson (Abraham Lincoln High School NY) were both McDonald’s All Americans in high school. Although they didn’t stay at UC that long, they’ve both gone on to have professional basketball careers.
Cincinnati competed against Big East rival St. John’s and UNLV for Lawrence. I think that in the end, he’ll be worth that fight. Although we are still in need of a point guard to replace Cashmere Wright when he’s gone, you can never underestimate the value of a 6-8 PF in the Big East Conference.
Currently: The Bearcats are projected as the #4 seed in the East Bracket, with a 2nd-round matchup against #13 seed Akron. If they won that game, they would most likely face #5 seed Minnesota. The Gophers are currently on a 2-game win streak in Big 10 play after losing 4 straight.
CIncinnati is 1 of 7 Big East teams projected to be in the NCAA Tournament for the week of February 4th.
The Big East retained the lead over all conferences with most schools projected to be in this year’s tourney, despite Villanova dropping out of a seed in the bracket this week. The Big East is projected to have 7 schools in the NCAA Tournament for the week of February 4th. The Big 10 and Big 12 have 6 schools each.
Who the Bearcats face this week:
February 6th: @ Providence
February 9th: #23 Pittsburgh