Gaels' Phillip Lawrence talks Marist pledge
Phillip Lawrence had a clear objective heading into his official visit to Marist over the weekend.
The Mount St. Joseph senior wasn’t looking to be swayed by the Red Foxes coaching staff or wowed by the Poughkeepsie, N.Y., campus. A decision from Lawrence – who unofficially visited the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference school in August – had already been made.
“Oh, I was going to commit,” Lawrence said. “I just wanted to make the commitment [on my] official and make it more meaningful. And I wanted my mother and my grandmother to see [the campus]. They saw it and loved it there. They loved everything.”
With his family’s seal of approval, Lawrence gladly accepted Marist’s scholarship on Saturday, picking the Red Foxes over offers from Jacksonville, Loyola, Radford, Rider and Siena.
“It feels great,” Lawrence said. “Everybody’s congratulating me and I feel like I did it. I had a good summer and it paid off. Playing for Philly’s Finest really paid off.”
After a so-so junior season at Mount St. Joseph, Lawrence went to Philadelphia to live with his father over the summer, and subsequently saw his stock rise substantially thanks to his play on the circuit with Philly’s Finest. Playing for the high-profile AAU program – which also featured five-star recruit Amile Jefferson – put Lawrence in prime position to impress college coaches. The 6-foot-7, 190-pound forward took advantage of that exposure almost immediately.
“[Marist] offered in the middle of July and said I was their No. 1 recruit,” Lawrence said. “They really wanted me. … It’s a great feeling when somebody just wants you and does everything they can to get you. All the praise and congratulations, it’s a great feeling.”
Lawrence said Marist resonated with him immediately. He was familiar with the competitiveness of the MAAC, and was intrigued by how the coaching staff said he’d fit into their dribble-drive system as a wing forward.
An unofficial visit to Marist two months ago hooked Lawrence on the school. Saturday’s trip, meanwhile, confirmed everything he had thought about the program since then.
“After watching practice, seeing how the team is run, and after walking around the campus, I thought ‘Yeah, this could be my future home for the next four years,’” Lawrence said. “They have everything. The facilities are brand new, the locker room is awesome [and] the team was great. I had a great time. I fit the offense and their style of play.”
Lawrence said he “loves the coaching staff” and can’t wait to suit up for the Red Foxes next fall. Until then, he has business to attend to at Mount St. Joseph.
“Now that my recruiting is finished,” Lawrence said, “I’m focused on getting bigger, stronger, improving my skills and winning a championship.”
Patuxent photo of Phillip Lawrence by Drew Anthony Smith / Jan. 25, 2009