MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG) — LeMoyne-Owen center Jaquan Lawrence was leaving class when he found out he was a finalist for the first HBCU All-Star Game.
“A few weeks later they announced on CBS Sports that I had been selected in one of those 24 [players] and I was like ‘yeah, I did that,’ Lawrence said.
It was the opportunity of a lifetime for Chicago’s fifth-year senior — who thought his college playing days were over.
“[The all-stars] had our own group chat, everyone said it was a blessing, it’s a blessing. At the press conference, it’s a blessing.
The weekend in New Orleans included a pro day in front of NBA scouts and ended with the All-Star Game where Lawrence finished with 7 points, 2 blocks.
“All the work I did during the pandemic, I was just like, what if basketball doesn’t happen again? So, I was like, I’m going to work until I can’t work anymore. And I’m going to keep working after this. So just putting in all my hard work and making myself feel like yes, I can really achieve my goals if I work hard and dedicate myself to it.
Lawrence said he grew so much last season under Magician’s first-year head coach Bonzi Wells, who focused on the mental side of basketball.
“You say you want to play professional, what do you do to prepare to play professional? Because [Wells] knows the game, he knows what it takes to play at the next level, and loves the physicality and speed of the game, and all that.
“During the season he brought us his passion for the game and he wanted us to be the best performers and put ourselves in the best performing position.
This season, the 6-9 center averaged a near-double-double with 12 points and nearly 9 rebounds per game – scoring 19 points, 12 boards and 5 blocks to help the Magician advance to the quarter-finals of SIAC.
Lawrence finished the season earning SIAC Defensive Player of the Year honors.
“I had success during the season, but it’s like God wanted me to be patient with him. A lot of people asked, man, you’re so talented, why are you at LeMoyne-Owen College? Like , why don’t you play basketball DI? I was like that’s what I’m called to. I pray for all these great things, but do you have patience with me? Last year is coming,[SIAC]Defensive Player of the Year, Second Team All Conference, HBCU All Star Game. And that was crazy. Just to really sit down and think about all of this, like all of these accomplishments and just to feel these trophies and these plates and just seeing my name in the papers and it was like, this is what really happens.
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