When Jermaine Lawrence famously announced he was committing to Mick Cronin and UC by posting a picture of his 18th birthday cake on Instagram, Bearcat Nation did a collective double-take. Players of Lawrence's caliber don't often make it to the University of Cincinnati. I mean let's be honest. You need more than two hands to count how many times Mick and his staff have come up "this short" on a big name player that would open some eyes nationally.
But after months and months...and MONTHS of guessing not where, but exactly when he would spurn the Bearcats and pick the St. John's Red Storm and Steve freaking Lavin just like Chris Obepka had done just one year prior, Lawrence shocked everyone and picked UC. UC?!?!? Jermaine Lawrence???? How did that happen?
No one knows. No one really cares at this point. He signed on the dotted line April 17 and Mick Cronin (with the help of Darren Savino) reeled in his prized recruit.
Of course once Lawrence signed with UC, his stock immediately dropped. Scouting services, siting numerous things like the wrist injury and prior bias against UC in general, downgraded him from FIVE STAR JERMAINE LAWRENCE!!!!!!!!! to puny little 4 star Jermaine Lawrence. Sure, Lawrence missed the majority of the 2012-2013 season with a wrist injury. It kept him from being a McDonald's All-American like he was almost guaranteed to be before the season began. But, it didn't take away from the talent level he possesses. Maybe the injury scared some programs off. Maybe not. Again, we'll never know...nor will we care. He's a Bearcat.
So, where does Mr. Lawrence fit into the Bearcats' plans? You'd like to think a talent like Jermaine Lawrence (former 5 star) would be thrust immediately into the lineup come November 1 (or whenever the first exhibition game is played) and would take to dominating each opponent on the way to a Final Four. But, things like that just don't work as easily as it's played out in our heads. Not only has he battled the wrist injury, but since he arrived on campus he has been thrown into UC's weight program and has appeared to be suffering from a sore back, which has also kept him out of the Summer League at Woodward HS (to Mick's delight I might add).
Even if he wasn't banged up, it's become quite apparent from those who have seen him at summer league that he drastically needs to add some weight and strength, something the returning players already have. Also, he's not joining a program devoid of talent. Even though he's 6-foot-9, he is apparently going to play the "small forward" position. Right now, with Sean Kilpatrick manning the shooting guard spot, Shaquille Thomas is going to (hopefully) be the man at the "3" with Titus Rubles and Justin Jackson likely rounding out the "4" and "5" positions...at least to start.
Where does Lawrence begin the season? In all likelihood, assuming he's healthy he will start off as a reserve who has to earn his time most likely in practice. Mick Cronin doesn't play just veterans as we all know. If Lawrence is ready, and is one of the best five players, he'll start. But I don't think anyone has that scenario playing out just yet. As we've discussed many times before, there's plenty of talent on this roster whether people want to believe it or not. This program would have been fine without Jermaine Lawrence. But we're all happy he's a Bearcat and can't wait to see what he can truly do on the college level.