February 7, 2015

Lawrence sees big picture

Kevin McCarthy

One of the storylines for the present-day Moreau Catholic High (MCH) basketball program seems dated, something harkening back to long ago times. It's about a pact, even if informal, that a group of friends made to put their prep hoops program on the map. Brandon Lawrence is one of those linchpins.

photo of Brandon Lawrence

A 6-foot-3 junior, Lawrence is averaging 10.5 points, 3.0 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.0 steals each Mariner contest. The covenant he agreed to, along with fellow members Oscar Frayer, Damari Milstead and Armond Simmons, is “to put Moreau on the map” as a basketball power. “We grew up together and that's our vow.” He added, “We're a big family. We're all brothers and we all have each others back.”

Such a bond seems out of place considering the current atmosphere where individual accolades and headlines and a ‘what's the best place for me’ attitude all seem jobs one.

Last season was a big step forward as the Mariners finished 27-7 overall, 11-3 in the Mission Valley Athletic League (MVAL). Moreau fell to Montgomery in the state championship game but it was quite the roll for a squad primarily made up of underclassmen. The season before, Coach Frank Knight's crew finished at a very solid 18-10, 10-4.

Now, MCH is at 17-5, 10-0. The five losses are a result of a beefed up schedule as each was to either perennial state champion Mater Dei or out-of-state squads.

Drilling down on Lawrence, his skills set centers around “my shooting ability. Overall, that's my main thing but I'll go to the basket if my shot isn't dropping. I was more of a two guard as a freshman on varsity but now I'm more of a combo guard.” That expansion of duties came about from his adjustment to the speed and strength of opponents as well as advancement in playing the game smarter.

Here's Knight on his junior: “Brandon is a great kid, a dream to coach because he has a very even keel. He doesn't get too up or too down. He's a deadly shooter, especially in our big games—we call him Big Shot Brandon. He is also getting more athletic which is helping at the defensive end and with dunking in games. Brandon also has like a 3.8 grade point average.”

With a season and a half still remaining is his prep tenure, he cites his best hoops moment as “last year with a great team win in the NCS championship.” That victory came against Salesian High, a team that knocked Moreau out of North Coast Section playoffs a year earlier.

Ask to describe any differences he has experienced between playing high school and club ball, Lawrence offered a reasoned, mature response. “Both have great players but AAU is more about exposure.”

Lawrence was offered by Mountain West Conference member Fresno State right after the Nor Cal Tipoff in late November but has yet to take any official visits. His preference is to stay on the West Coast collegiately.

What is he looking to study at the next level? “I want to major in civil engineering and I also have interest in finance and philosophy.” His primary enthusiasm was initially spurred by taking engineering classes in summer camp. “I'm interested in how cities, roads and different ways of transportation are set up.”

Lawrence cites “both my parents” are his main basketball influences. “My Mom has always been there for me, taking me to workouts and my Dad and I will go to the gym. My Dad played high school basketball and baseball and was drafted by the Texas Rangers. My mom was a cheerleader.”

Considering his history, it certainly wouldn't be out of place for Lawrence to go all in at elevating the status of whichever college program he selects.