When assessing his team's chances of defending their first Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference championship ten years ago, Steve Masiello was candid in admitting that he and the rest of the Manhattan Jaspers would miss Rhamel Brown. However, the coach added that if Jermaine Lawrence; who transferred from Cincinnati to be closer to his ailing father, were to receive the hardship waiver that the school applied for on his behalf, the Jaspers "would be okay."
All is apparently well once again in Riverdale, not that there was ever any doubt from the eternal optimist Masiello, as the coach himself proclaimed news of Lawrence's eligibility via his Twitter account earlier this afternoon.
Jermaine Lawrence is eligible for the 2014 -2015 season!!! Jasper Nation let's go!!!!!
— Stephen Masiello (@steve_masiello) August 13, 2014
Lawrence, a 6-9 forward who played 26 games for Mick Cronin and the Bearcats last season after being recruited out of Pope John XXIII in New Jersey and Cardozo High School in Bayside before committing to Manhattan in May, will join his new team immediately, and will have three years of eligibility beginning in the 2014-15 season.
"I think because of his size, athleticism and versatility, he fits our style of play perfectly," Masiello told A Daly Dose Of Hoops. "He reminds me a lot of Earl Clark, who I coached at Louisville. He can play multiple positions as well as defend multiple positions, and I think he can affect the game from a defensive standpoint and rebounding standpoint. He gives us a very long perimeter defender that can alter shots. What I'm excited about more than anything is his humility and his tremendous work ethic."
Lawrence will go a long way toward replacing Rhamel Brown, who departed the Manhattan program three months ago as one of the greatest forwards in school history. The Springfield Gardens native will join senior Emmy Andujar and junior Ashton Pankey on a physically imposing front line that may be short on experience compared to some others in the MAAC, but long on causing frustration for opposing teams.
"I think he's a guy who is similar to how we used Emmy," Masiello said when asked how Lawrence would fit the Jasper system, which focuses on an unrelenting full-court press and suffocating opposing ball movement. "He's a guy who you're going to see take bigger defenders off the bounce, post up smaller defenders, he's going to be used a lot in one-on-one iso situations. We'll run a lot of stuff through him, but I think the biggest thing for Jermaine is he's coming onto a very good front line, so he can have great success, but not have to be relied upon, which I think is a nice luxury for him."