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Jermaine Lawrence of Pope John XXIII impresses in Philly, talks recruiting


PHILADELPHIA—A lot can change in one year, and it certainly has for Pope John XXIII (N.J.) forward Jermaine Lawrence.

Lawrence, a native of Queens, N.Y., went from another athletic forward labeled with that difficult-to-quantify word “potential,” to a player with a high-major (and possibly professional) future.

In the summer of 2011, Lawrence’s game was limited as he moved out toward the perimeter, but on Friday night, during an opening-round game with his New Rens (N.Y.) team, Lawrence had 26 points, including six three-pointers.

“I’ve just been in the gym shooting and practicing my form, learning to set my feet to get a shot off,” Lawrence told “Having those skills makes me harder to guard.”

“Harder to guard” was probably among the biggest understatements of the weekend.

For the first time in summer action, Lawrence showed a willingness and ability to spot up from three-point range, in combination with his aggressiveness in attacking the basket.

He has also shown the ability to rebound and block shots on the defensive end. At 6-8, 190 pounds, his well-rounded skill set is catching more high-major attention by the day.

He lists Connecticut, Syracuse, Villanova, St. John’s, Rutgers, and Louisville as schools showing the most interest right now, but word of his potential is spreading westward.

Kansas coach Bill Self and UNLV coach Dave Rice were both in attendance Sunday in Philadelphia to watch his games.

“That’s why I came here. To come here and play my “A” game so I can get my name out in front of all these college coaches,” he said.

His New Rens team lost in the quarterfinals of the Hoop Group Jam Fest in Philadelphia.

Daniel Martin is a writer and editor at, covering St. John’s. You can find him on Twitter:@DanielJMartin_