When Jaquan Lawrence arrived at LeMoyne-Owen College in 2017, he understood the academic and athletic challenges before him.
Originally from Chicago and determined to become the best basketball player he could be, Lawrence recognized that nothing of value would be given to him without hard work.
That realization has paid off in a big way. The fifth-year senior will compete in the inaugural HBCU All-Star Game in New Orleans Sunday (April 3).
The game highlights the best players from historically Black colleges and universities around the nation.
LOC junior point guard Andrew Anderson recalled the steps Lawrence took to reach his goals.
Anderson, also a Chicago native, said nothing would be given to either player on the court, but he is not surprised by Lawrence’s level of talent. Anderson has seen it in practice for the last three seasons.
“To be honest, I wish that he had another year of eligibility,” Anderson said. “He deserves everything good coming his way and it is good that he is getting the credit coming his way for participating in the All-Star Game.”
Under the supervision of former LeMoyne-Owen College men’s basketball coach and current athletic director William Anderson, Lawrence, a 6-9, 200-pound forward, steadily improved on both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.
Entering college, Lawrence focused on shots close to the rim and gradually expanded his game. By the 2019 season, he had become one of the best players in the Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (SIAC).
“Defensively, Jaquan Lawrence continued to get better every year, and his offensive game grew as he improved upon his jump shot,” Anderson said.
“When he first arrived, he was limited in terms of his shooting, but he found the floor early based on his ability to guard all five positions.”
Despite the 2020 season being canceled because of COVID-19, Lawrence harnessed his skills and put together his best season at LeMoyne-Owen this past season.
With new head coach and former NBA player Bonzi Wells implementing his fast-paced offensive system heading into the 2021 campaign, Lawrence quickly adapted to the style and improved his skills as a savvier player.
“When we first got here, it took a while for them to adapt to our system, as we arrived just before the season started,” LOC assistant coach Jernel Jernigan said. “However, when everyone got used to how things were run, it became easier to work with.”
Lawrence averaged 12 points and nine rebounds per game.
The Magicians finished with a 16-12 record in the 2021-22 season. They lost in the second round of the SIAC tournament.
Lawrence highlighted his prowess on the defensive end of the floor. He captured the SIAC Defensive Player of the Year award, a culmination of the hard work and pride he takes in playing defense.
“From the beginning, I always possessed an affinity for playing defense, and that’s where I made my name,” Lawrence said. “Blocking shots is something that brings an adrenaline rush throughout my body, and something I enjoy doing.”
Lawrence aspires to play professionally overseas, and with his degree being information technology, he wants to use both talents to help others while also building upon the legacy of LeMoyne-Owen College.
Lawrence is confident about success after college because of his ability to rise above demanding situations.
“I feel that with the attributes I have, I can thrive in whatever I decide to do, first on the basketball court and afterward when I get into my IT career,” Lawrence said.
“I am grateful for the opportunities that LeMoyne-Owen provided me, and I can truly say I developed into a young man while here.”