Jermaine Lawrence is heading home after freshman season at Cincinnati, reportedly agreeing to transfer to Manhattan, where he will bring three years of eligibility to Steve Masiello and Jaspers. (Photo courtesy of the Cincinnati Enquirer)
The last time Manhattan was able to get a New York City forward to transfer into the program, he turned out to be a significant cog in the deep Jasper rotation on the way to an NCAA Tournament appearance and the school's first MAAC championship in ten years.
Two years after Ashton Pankey left Maryland for Riverdale, another Big Apple product has left a high-major program for the reigning kings of New York college basketball, as Jermaine Lawrence has reportedly decided on Manhattan as his new home after receiving a release to transfer from Cincinnati earlier in the week.
As reported earlier this afternoon by Zach Braziller, who does an outstanding job covering local college basketball and recruiting for the New York Post, Lawrence, the Springfield Gardens native and high school standout at both Cardozo in Bayside and Pope John XXIII in New Jersey; who was courted by Syracuse and St. John's before settling on the Bearcats, will have three years of eligibility with the Jaspers after he announced his intentions on the heels of also visiting Iona and Hofstra.
Lawrence battled through a rookie season that saw him limited to just 15 minutes and nearly three points per game, but will make a significant impact on the Manhattan front line regardless of whether or not he were to apply for hardship waiver, which is a possibility due to his ailing father. At 6-9 and 205 pounds, the 19-year-old Lawrence provides the length and athleticism that would be a perfect complement to Pankey and fellow incumbent forward Emmy Andujar in Steve Masiello's frontcourt.
The fact that Lawrence has apparently committed without a face-to-face meeting with Masiello, who remains on administrative leave from Manhattan while he continues working toward his bachelor's degree, speaks volumes as to the dedication and value of the entire Jasper coaching staff, which is managing the team in the absence of their leader. Lawrence has had a long-standing relationship with assistant coach Rasheen Davis, who recruited the forward out of high school and was vital in re-recruiting him following his departure from Cincinnati, and the yeoman's work has apparently shone through.
With or without Lawrence, Manhattan will have seemingly all of their underclassmen from last year's team coming back next season, but will still need to replace their senior triumvirate of George Beamon, Rhamel Brown and Michael Alvarado as they prepare to begin their championship defense.