The way Cincinnati head coach Mick Cronin prefers to play is with 94 feet of pressure defense and on offense a four-out-one-in system which utilizes a power forward who can spread the floor as well as long and athletic guys on the perimeter who will rebound. With the departures of some key seniors following this season, Cronin knew he had to re-load, and he did in a big way with Jermaine Lawrence.
At 6-foot-9 with a nice shooting stroke and impressive athleticism, Lawrence blew up this spring and summer on the AAU circuit. During this time the Cincinnati Bearcats and assistant coach Darren Savino were present quite a bit watching him play. That paid off with a commitment, and now UC has a key piece to the puzzle.
With his skillset and the direction basketball is going now, which is a bit smaller and more perimeter oriented, Lawrence is perfect as a faceup power forward. He can stretch the defense with his three point shooting, yet is athletic enough to know how to rebound.
For UC this is vital, because their current power forward, Justin Jackson, is mostly unskilled, but has a high motor. That means Jackson is more naturally suited to playing inside as a center as opposed to on the perimeter in the four-out offense that Cronin and his staff prefer.
By allowing Jackson to move inside, look for Lawrence to start at power forward and to be flanked on the wing by seniors Titus Rubles and Sean Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick, who is one of the best players in the Big East, is expected to return for his fifth year next season. That trio combined with Jackson will give the Bearcats a ton of length and athleticism.
Not only will Lawrence and Kilpatrick be able to spread the defense with their three point shooting, but it will take pressure off of what will be a somewhat unproven point guard situation. Troy Caupain could come in and start right away, but he is mostly a slasher, driver and then back up Ge-Lawn Guyn has been solid during the first two years of his career, yet fairly unspectacular.
Adding that scoring punch with Lawrence and allowing UC to played their preferred style on offense and defense makes this a huge commitment for the Bearcats. Right now UC can struggle to score, and they lose playmaker Cashmere Wright and toughness guy Jaquon Parker to graduation on the perimeter as well as top interior performer Cheikh Mobj.
Cronin needed a superstar in this class, and he got one in Lawrence. As if that weren’t big enough, Lawrence plays the position that is most crucial to allowing Cronin to play the way he wants on defense, and gives the Bearcats one of the longest and most athletic defensive teams in the country.