CINCINNATI - One of the nation's top recruits is joining the University of Cincinnati basketball team next season.
Jermaine Lawrence, a 6-9 forward, has signed a national letter of intent, UC head coach Mick Cronin announced Wednesday.
Lawrence, a native of Springfield Gardens, N.Y., ranks among the nation's top overall prospects, according to multiple recruiting services, including Scout.com (19th), 247Sports.com (23rd), ESPN.com (25th) and Rivals.com (26th). He was tabbed a five-star prospect by Scout.com, Rivals.com and 247Sports.com.
ESPN.com also lists Lawrence as the No. 2 overall prospect from New York.
Lawrence averaged 18.8 points, 13.0 rebounds and 6.4 blocks during his junior season (2011-12) at Pope John Paul XXIII High School in Sparta, N.J. He registered seven double-doubles and two triple-doubles, including 25 points, 15 rebounds and 15 blocks in the county championship game.
During an injury-shortened 2012-13 campaign, Lawrence averaged 13.3 points and 7.5 rebounds with two double-doubles in 11 games.
"Jermaine is a multi-dimensional player that can affect the game in many ways whether it be scoring, passing, defense or shot-blocking; he can truly do it all," Cronin said. "At 6-9, he is a guy that can defend and play three positions on the court. That excites me as a coach. Jermaine has had a tough year due to a wrist injury but is finally back to 100 percent and we look forward to him joining us this summer as we prepare for next season."
Lawrence becomes the fifth member of UC's 2013-14 signing class currently ranked No. 18 by Scout.com and 24th by ESPN.com. Four recruits signed in the fall:
6-3, 180-pound guard Troy Caupain (pronounced Co-PAIN) from New York;
6-2, 175-pound guard Kevin Johnson from Summit Country Day in Cincinnati;
6-3, 190-pound guard Deshaun Morman from Richmond, Va.;
6-10, 230-pound center Jamaree Strickland from Oakland, Calif.
Johnson (No. 117) and Morman (No. 132) are also listed among the Top 150 prospects nationally by Rivals.com.
"My staff has done a tremendous job recruiting this year," Cronin said. "This is the best class that we have signed at Cincinnati, one through five, in a very long time. We have added not only talent to our roster, but high-level people as well. I am extremely pleased and I want our fans to know these young men are going to be a huge addition to our program."
Related story: Cronin agrees to contract extension http://www.wcpo.com/dpp/sports/college_sports/university_of_cincinnati/university-of-cincinnati-basketball-coach-mick-cronin-agrees-to-contract-extension