Even though he’s never seen the Pacific Ocean, Kimani Lawrence sees himself as a potential Angeleno.
“I like everything about Los Angeles. I’m an L.A. guy. I like the Lakers. I’m a big fan of Los Angeles.”
The 6-foot-6, 205-pound four-star small forward prospect’s farthest excursion west landed him in Las Vegas, Nev. for a basketball tournament. He’s now considering whether basketball could take him a bit further, all the way to Los Angeles where USC recently offered him a scholarship.
“I was happy about it. I mean it was my first offer from the West Coast,” Lawrence said. “I like their style of play and I like Coach [Andy] Enfield a lot.”
“I feel like they have a pro style of play. Their offense is filled with pro-sets. They let their guys play. They really let their guys play through mistakes and stuff.”
Lawrence has been showing on the Elite Youth Basketball League circuit this spring that he can drive the ball into the paint and get to the rim. But he has also worked hard to develop his outside shot as well, which has made him even harder to defend. Lawrence believes his game is similar to a couple of former Trojans.
“I see my game as a slasher. A slashing style, similar to when [USC] had guys like Nick Young there and DeMar DeRozan. I think my game is similar to guys like thats games. I think it’ll fit very nicely in their style of play.
“I’d say I’m just a big, skilled athletic guy that can create his own shot. A playmaker that makes the game easier for his teammates.”
But Lawrence is a long way away from Los Angeles. He’s nearly as far away as he could be in the continental United States and in a city as small and sterile as Los Angeles is expansive and diverse. Lawrence is enrolled at private prep academy, the New Hampton School, in New Hampton, New Hampshire. The town has been around longer than the country and features a sparse population of only 2,165 in the last census.
New Hampton’s remote locale around 100 miles away from Boston and Portland, Maine might seem to be a deterrent, but it actually could play into USC’s favor. Lawrence, a native of Rhode Island, has been away at prep schools since entering high school, so he is accustomed to being away from home and doesn’t have the lingering strings constantly pulling him back home.
“I don’t think the distance really matters. I’ve been away from home for a while now, so I’m kind of used to it.”
Being from Rhode Island, Lawrence was paying attention to Providence in the NCAA tournament and got to watch USC take on the Friars in the first round. He came away impressed by the Trojans.
“I liked their game. They’ve got some nice pieces. They’ve got some nice guys there.”
Lawrence is hoping to visit USC to check out the campus and get a better feel for whether he could see himself playing hoops on the West Coast.
“That’s definitely something I want to do. When they offered me, that was the first time hearing from them. But after that Coach Enfield has been in touch.
“He’s been asking me how do I think my game will fit in their system and stuff like that and how do I like the campus. How would the Los Angeles lifestyle fit for me?
“I definitely could see myself as [an L.A. guy].”