By John Davis
Special to the Journal
If Steve Green’s assessment of Roderick Lawrence turns out to be as accurate as the one he gave for Marshall Henderson, then Ole Miss’ Andy Kennedy should have a reliable starter for the next few seasons in Oxford.
The 6-foot-4, 185 shooting guard from Orlando, Fla. was labeled as a slasher by his South Plains Junior College coach, who also thought highly of his hustle and ability to defend. Last season at South Plains in Texas, the same school where Henderson played, Lawrence averaged 13.1 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. He also shot almost 33 percent from behind the 3-point arc, a good figure, but one Green wanted everyone to know didn’t mean he was Henderson either.
“He’s not the prolific shooter that Marshall was … he’s a completely different player. There is no comparison between the two at all. If you leave him open, I think he would make around 38, 39 percent of his shots from behind 3-point line,” Green said. “But he can put the ball on the floor and drive it to the basket. He also rebounds extremely, extremely well. He just plays with a high level of energy all the time. He played extremely, extremely hard. I know we say that about a lot of people, but when you watch him play, that’s what you will come away saying. A lot of people that don’t know much about basketball will come away saying ‘Wow, Rod really played hard tonight.’ Defense will be a strong suit for him.”
Lawrence attended the same high school – Dr. Phillips – as former Ole Miss standout Chris Warren. Having Henderson lead the Rebels to the NCAA Tournament in 2013 also helped paint a good picture for Lawrence in his decision Green said.
“He was a good leader for us and he took that role on. He’s an older guy when he was playing for us like Marshall was for us here. He’s been here for two years for us and I l think he liked the idea of going to an SEC school with him being from Orlando. The SEC is the league in his backyard,” Green said. “I know Rod knows Chris, or of him, and I think they’ve done stuff together. Ole Miss is definitely an attractive sell to a kid coming out of junior college. I would also like to think that because Marshall went down there, that he had a successful two-year run down there, that helped play a part in it all as well.”
Lawrence is the fifth pledge for Kennedy and his staff and Wednesday was the first day of the spring signing period, meaning Lawrence could make his verbal pledge from Monday official. Lawrence appeared set to start his four-year college career at Miami University in Ohio, but those plans never got on track as he was released from the team in Sept. 2012 by coach John Cooper for detrimental conduct.
Lawrence averaged 16.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 3.1 assists his senior year in high school. He was originally signed to play at Morehead State but was released from that after a coaching change, choosing Miami over Penn State.