St. Raymonds turned a close game into a late blowout as its trio of talented swingmen (Omari Lawrence, Gerald Colds, Darryl Bryant) took over the game against the Mt. Vernon fullcourt pressure defense. The three players combined for 40 points and were oustanding in breaking down the defense and getting to the basket for easy baskets. On the other side of the court, Mt. Vernon got bogged down by some poor shooting from Mike Coburn, who seemed to forget about the interior advantage that Kevin Jones offered.
Kevin Jones, 6-7, 195 lb F. Class of 2008. Jones spent much of his time with his back to the basket, posting up opposing bigman Darion Benbow. The results were mixed. He had a few plays where he was able to overpower the slimmer and weaker Benbow, but he also rushed a few shot and left them short off the rim. He did a good job of drawing contact and went to the line several times, but did not convert particularly well (2-6 in the second half).
Jones was more effective on the offensive end when he was facing the basket. He hit 2 third quarter three-pointers, a face-up 12-footer from the baseline, and a very nice 15 footer from the wing. The latter shot came off the dribble and looked pretty smooth and fluid, unlike his free throws, which were a bit mechanical and tight. In general, he looked much better shooting the ball in catch-and-shoot fashion or off the dribble than he did when he was stationary. His release point needs some work, as his elbow is very low and as a result he tends to guide or push the ball a bit. This should be rectified as he gets stronger.
Kevin Jones pours in a trifecta from the top of the key.
Jones has a relatively wide base and shoulders, so it looks like he will be able to bulk up some (he is already heavier than the 195 lbs that scout has him listed at). He pulled down 14 rebounds in this game and showed a disregard for contact, which is a big plus. Overall, I would characterize him as a combo forward, although he did not show the ballhandling and passing skills that Boeheim's best previous combo forwards showed. He did not have the look of an uber-athletic "above the rim" type of player, but he scored in many different manners and has the beginnings of what could turn into a very reliable mid-range shot. Syracuse will be keeping a close eye on him in the upcoming months.
Omari Lawrence, 6-3, 175 lbs G/F. Class of 2009. Lawrence is only a sophomore, but it is likely that teams will start to take notice of him soon. Scout currently has him ranked as a 3-star prospect, but I could easily see that changing by the middle of this summer. Lawrence is a lean, lanky fleet of foot swingman type. He showed a very nice understanding of how to attack pressure defense and consistently got to the right places on the floor when St. Raymonds was in transition. Although Lawrence was not the primary ball-handler, he dished out three second half assists, one of which came when he saved a ball going out of bounds and whipped a pass under the basket to a teammate for an easy score.
Lawrence was also very economical with the dribble - he used it to either set up the proper passing angles or attack the basket. He had trouble finishing on several shots because he needs to add strength, but his instincts are very good and it seemed like he always made the correct read on whether to pass or take it himself in transition.
Omari Lawrence scores over Kevin Jones.
There is no question that he will need to get bigger, but he has plenty of time as he is only a sophomore. It would have been nice to see what his shot looked like outside of lay-ups and short-range floaters. When he got to the line, he displayed poor mechanics, cocking the ball over the back of his head and flinging it at the rim. The result was a pair of clankers that would make Derek Brower proud. I suspect that his poor mechanics are a result of his relative lack of strength and that they may get better with coaching and improved strength.
Lawrence is only a sophomore.
Even with the missed free throws, there was a lot to like about his game. He moves with purpose and seems to flow up and down the court with a silky smooth gait. In some ways he reminded me a bit of a left-handed, undersized Julius Hodge. I suspect that we will be hearing more about Mr. Lawrence over the next three years.