Q & A With Lawrence Westbrook's Head Coach

Find out what Lawrence Westbrook's coach had to say about everything from Lawrence's senior season to his future at Iowa State. Westbrook led the nation in scoring as a junior in Chandler, Arizona. Cyclone Nation sat down with Mike Byrnes and talked about Iowa State's high profile recruit, Lawrence Westbrook.

CN: Talk about how special of a player that Lawrence Westbrook really is?

 

Coach Byrnes: Lawrence as you know as a junior at Chandler High School in Chandler, AZ, led the nation in scoring. He averaged 41 points a game. He broke the Arizona state record for most points averaged. He came to the Winchendon School his senior year. Lawrence is a 6'0 strong combo guard who can really score with the basketball. He's similar to a Tim Hardaway. He can shoot from the perimeter; he can take guys off the dribble. He's strong enough to get in the paint and score. He has a really strong knack of creating offense for himself.

 

CN: What was Lawrence's number one factor when he chose to be a Cyclone next season?

 

Byrnes: I would say Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock. When he went out on his visit and spent time with Curtis and Will and saw the team work out. The coaching staff showed him where he would fit in, in the future. I think the fact that Curtis played at the Winchendon School for two years and that Will played at the Notre Dame Academy there was some common ground there. Those guys hit it off very very well and they convinced Lawrence that it would be a great place to be a student athlete. Lawrence does have some family from that area. He felt very comfortable with his visit and he called me Saturday night of his visit and told me that's where he wanted to go to school.

 

CN: Could you talk a little bit about your relationship with Lawrence and how you think he'll adapt to playing college ball at Iowa State?

 

Byrnes: Lawrence has been all over the place. His dad played basketball at Holy Cross. Lawrence was born in Syracuse, NY. He then moved to Arizona, went to high school in Arizona and he's at Winchendon now, he has family in western Massachusetts and he's going to school in Iowa. He's been to a lot of different places. Sometimes you'd be surprised that a kid from Arizona or a kid from a high school in Massachusetts would pick a school in Iowa. Because of the fact that this kid has moved around so much, he just wanted to find a college where he felt comfortable with his teammates and where he felt comfortable with the coaching staff. He felt the most comfortable at Iowa State.

 

CN: Talk about how Lawrence is looking so far this year.

 

Byrnes: Lawrence led us our first game with 26. Right now we're 4-2 and Lawrence is averaging 19 points a game. He's going a really nice job starting at the 2 guard and he's scoring a lot of baskets for us.

 

CN: Do you think he's grown much as a player over the summer and fall months from what you've seen?

 

Byrnes: The biggest thing with Lawrence is that his league in Arizona, there weren't many division one players that he played with or against. As talented as he was, I don't know how much he really got challenged every day in practice and in games. Here at the Winchendon School, he probably has at least ten division one players on his team and every time he steps on the floor there is probably somewhere between 10 and 20 division one players between the two teams so that biggest thing that Lawrence is getting is the competition. The biggest thing that Lawrence needs to learn to do is, in high school he could just get a shot off because he is stronger and more talented than anybody else. Now he's finding guys that are as talented as he is, maybe a little taller than he is and he is learning how to shoot a jump shot. Shot selection, how to get teammates more involved and how he has to play two ends of the floor. He relied on his athleticism and his talent defensively in the past where now he really has to defend and he really has to be a part of team defense. Now he needs to be a part of the team concept. He's not a selfish kid at all, but defensively playing with and against that type of talent will raise his level and will get him more prepared to play at Iowa State where if he would have come from that small high school in Arizona. It will be a much easier transition for him.

 

CN: Will he learn a lot from Curtis Stinson and Will Blalock?

 

Byrnes: That's one of the biggest reasons that he went to Iowa State. He has a possibility to play with them everyday and practice with them. They will challenge him every day for a year. As those guys leave there will be some big gaps in the lineup and he will have the same opportunity as any other player to fill some of those gaps.

 

CN: Do you think that since he's signed that it takes a lot of pressure off of Lawrence this season?

 

Byrnes: I think that was one of the nice things when the NCAA put together this early signing period that kids are now able to enjoy their senior year. They can now be a true high school senior and worry about going to class and enjoying their friendships, their senior year and they can cut out that whole recruiting process and forget about the phone calls and the visits and being bombarded with the media. All of that is cut out after they make a decision. I think he's more of a relaxed basketball player now that he knows that he has a scholarship to Iowa State.


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