Hawks offer 2016 forward

On Sunday, St. Joe's head coach Phil Martelli flew to Illinois to watch an unsigned senior forward. With Isaiah Miles, Papa Ndao, and Aaron Brown all graduating this year, the Hawks could use help in the front court next season. Enter Lake Forest senior Lorenzo Edwards to the picture. The 6'7 forward picked up a Hawk offer today. Get the full scoop inside.

St. Joe's loses three forwards to graduation in May, and could quite possibly also lose junior DeAndre Bembry to the NBA. While the Hawks return Javon Baumann and Jai Williams in the middle, and forwards Pierfrancesco Oliva and Markell Lodge at the forward position, it's obvious that the Hawks could be looking to add another piece. Pomfret (CT) senior Gerald Blount has already committed to the Hawks, but St. Joe's could certainly use another forward in the Papa Ndao/Isaiah Miles mold, one to stretch a defense. That's not Blount's game.

This is where St. Joe's interest in 6'7 Lake Forest (IL) stretch four Lorenzo Edwards comes from. Edwards, whose father Kevin played at De Paul and then in the NBA for twelve years, averaged roughly 20 points and 14 rebounds this year for Lake Forest. The forward already held offers from George Mason, Saint Louis, Duquesne, Furman, and more heading into Sunday. When Phil Martelli watched him in person, and liked what he saw, St. Joe's threw their hat into the ring with an offer as well.

I got an opportunity to watch a full game tape of Lorenzo Edwards, from a February 20th game against Prospect (IL). It's a game that Lake Forest won 53-52. Edwards scored a career-high 35 points in the contest, knocking down four threes, and also grabbing 12 boards and blocking 3 shots.

In the contest, Edwards started somewhat slowly, missing a baseline turn-around and then missing a three. His first bucket came on a play where he grabbed the defensive rebound and dribbled the length of the court through traffic for a finger-roll. His first made three was then on a rub where he set a screen at the top of the key then popped off, got some space and buried a straight-away three. It's a play design and execution very similar to what you saw the Hawks do with Isaiah Miles over the past two years. On the very next possession, Edwards ran the floor and got an open look from the same exact spot on the secondary break, knocking down another three.

The lefty also showed a desire and willingness to post up smaller defenders, earning a trip to the free throw line after sealing his man and getting position down low. He knocked down both free throws in that instance late in the first half. Not a freak athlete by any stretch, Edwards was quick enough off his fee to throw down a two-handed dunk off a pretty feed in traffic. Right before the half he earned an and-one, again by sealing his man down low and overpowering him at the rim. Once again, Lorenzo knocked down the free throw.

A banked 18-footer by Edwards pulled Lake Forest within 34-31 mid-way through the second half. At that point, he had scored 24 of his team's 31 points. Edwards' fourth and final three of the game came on a last-second play at the end of the third quarter where he caught and turned from the left wing and buried it as the buzzer sounded. The three tied the game up at 42 going into the third.

Lorenzo's game, in watching the film, is clearly predicated on his shooting touch. He knocked down four threes. He was 5-5 from the line. That being said, he has toughness, a willingness to play on the block, and sneaky athleticism. In the fourth quarter, he had a big two-handed poster dunk over a defender off a nice sharp cut on a baseline out of bounds play. Watching the game, it's obvious why St. Joe's would have an interest in Edwards. It's tough in watching him not to see a lot of Isaiah Miles. And if you're Lorenzo Edwards, and you have followed what the Hawk coaching staff has gotten out of Miles this year, there's an appeal there for him as well.

There are minutes to be had in the Hawk front court next year. It's fair and reasonable to expect Checco Oliva to make a jump. I think he will. The thought of pairing a player who can shoot like Edwards, and one who will help you on the boards like Lorenzo, is obviously appealing. It was appealing enough for Phil Martelli to offer Lorenzo on Sunday afternoon.

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