The NY Panthers are sometimes over shadowed by other AAU programs in New York, such as the NY Gauchos, New Heights, Metro Hawks, and Juice All-Stars. Over the weekend, the NY Panthers' U-17 team thrust their name near the top of the list of the best programs in the Empire State with an impressive showing at the Rumble in the Bronx. Led by 6'4 junior guard Omari Lawrence of St. Raymond's (NY), the squad pulled off an upset over one of the the tournament favorites, the LA Dream Team (CA), a squad featuring Renardo Sidney and Jordan Hamilton. Lawrence paced the Panthers from start to finish in the game, keeping them out front almost the whole contest. Prior to the big win, I had the chance to speak with Omari.
NB: What do you consider to be the strongest point of your game?
OL: My leadership and driving to the basket.
NB: What [is] . . . your weakest point? What are you going to need to work on the most?
OL: Extending my range.
NB: Do you have any goals for your senior year in high school?
OL: My goal is [to] hopefully become a McDonald’s All-American and just winning a championship, a national championship.
NB: What schools are you currently considering?
OL: Right now, I’m considering Marquette, UConn, West Virginia, Memphis, [and] Arizona. Schools like that.
NB: Have all those schools offered you scholarships?
NB: Is there a leader that stands out to you right now?
OL: No, nobody stands out to me right now. I’m just wide open still.
NB: Is there any school that you’ve always dreamed of playing at?
OL: No, I don’t have [any] dream school right now.
NB: When do you plan on starting to take . . . visits?
OL: I’m taking an unofficial [visit] next month to Marquette, and to UConn.
NB: When are you going to start taking official [visits]? Do you know?
OL: The beginning of my next year, before my season begins.
NB: Do you have a timetable for when you plan to commit?
OL: No, I don’t. . . . I’m just waiting for the perfect fit for me.
NB: What [is your team] . . . looking to accomplish in the tournament here?
OL: We [are] trying win it, win the whole thing, like everybody else.
Although the NY Panthers did not win the Rumble 2008, the team did make it to the title game before falling to the NY Gauchos. In addition, the team knocked off a New York squad, the Juice All-Stars, in the semifinals. As well, they were the only team to defeat the LA Dream Team, who would go on to take the Silver Bracket crown. A big part of the squad success was certainly Omari Lawrence. He is a player with a great game, major goals, and a bright future.
Scouting Report on Lawrence’s Game vs. LA Dream Team:
Omari Lawrence is a fantastic talent, certainly one of Big East caliber. The 6’4 junior guard is a bit lanky, quite skinny, and appears somewhat awkward on the court, as he has an odd shooting motion, which is evident on his free throws. As well, he even seems to dribble somewhat awkwardly, but it’s definitely working for him. Lawrence has solid athleticism: nice ups, quickness, aggressive, and some muscularity. As for his actual game, Omari has a solid crossover and attacks the basket extremely well, which is helped by his stellar head fake. At times, the St. Raymond’s (NY) stud appeared to be a bit too fancy. On a court of superstars (Kevin Parrom, Sterling Gibbs, Renardo Sidney, Jordan Hamilton), Lawrence may well have been the best player of them all. This NY Panther is destined for success.
Note- tournament info is from http://www.rivals.com/
Note- photo is from http://scouthoops.scout.com/