When you’re recruiting at a national level, there isn’t much time to feel sorry for yourself.
After losing out on top-rated high school guard Isaac Hamilton last week, UNLV has another huge recruiting event coming up this weekend, as elite power forward Jermaine Lawrence will be visiting. Lawrence is down to four finalists, and this visit will play a huge part in his decision, so expect the UNLV staff to roll out the proverbial red carpet.
Lawrence is 6-foot-9 with athleticism and inside-outside skills, and I’ve compared him to Mike Moser in the past. He averaged 19.7 points, 12.0 rebounds and 6.3 blocks per game for Pope John XXIII (Sparta, N.J.) last year as a junior, and his skills may actually translate better to the college level.
While Hamilton is ranked higher (he’s No. 16 in the Rivals 150, while Lawrence is No. 21), Lawrence may actually be a better fit for the Rebels. With guards Katin Reinhardt, Bryce Dejean-Jones, Daquan Cook, and Jelan Kendrick in the fold next year, the backcourt looks to be in good shape. Hamilton would have been a spectacular luxury. But the Rebels will lose Moser to the NBA after this season, and freshman Anthony Bennett may join him. Losing their two starting big men would leave a big hole and lots of minutes to fill in the frontcourt, so adding an athletic forward who can play the 3 and 4 would be huge.
Lawrence would be able to step in and help right away. He excels in the open floor and also earns high grades for his defense around the basket, so Dave Rice would be able to find significant minutes for him. If Lawrence comes to Las Vegas, he could team with Khem Birch to hold down the frontcourt next season.
Lawrence is a Long Island native who transfered to Pope John XXIII in the middle of last season. The rest of his final four has a distinct Northeast flavor, with Syracuse, St. John’s and Cincinnati in the mix, so UNLV’s inclusion as the only West Coast team can be interpreted as a good sign.
This weekend’s visit also takes on an added element because Lawrence will be able to take in a pair of Rebels games. UNLV plays Oregon on Friday, but depending on other results, they may also face off against Cincinnati on Saturday. If Cincinnati beats Iowa State, it would set up a matchup between two of Lawrence’s finalists while he’s in the arena to watch.
Morman is no more, man
When the Rebels missed out on Hamilton, there was some thought that it might open the door for Washington D.C. guard DeShaun Morman to make his way to UNLV. But the 6-foot-4 slasher is now off the board, as he committed to Cincinnati last week. UNLV is still in on several 2013 guards, including California prospect Kendall Smith and New York native Isaiah Lewis.
Follow Mike Grimala (@MikeGrimala) on Twitter for 24/7 Rebels updates.