Lawrence Earns Spot On Great Britain Olympic Team
CHARLESTON, S.C. - College of Charleston men's basketball 6-foot-1 rising senior point guard Andrew Lawrence (London, England) will compete in the upcoming 2012 London Olympic Games to be held on July 27-August 12 across the pond, as the final 12-man Great Britain National Team roster was announced by the British Olympic Association (BOA) on Thursday.
It marks only the second time in history in which Team Great Britain will be represented in basketball at the Olympics, and the first time since the Games were last hosted by London in 1948.
Lawrence becomes the first-ever men's basketball player in school history to earn a spot on an Olympic team roster and will be one of two CofC student-athletes competing in London later this month as rising senior sailor Juan Maegli (Guatamala City, Guatamala) will represent Guatamala in the laser class for the second-straight Olympic Games after having participated in 2008 in Beijing, China.
"I feel very honored and privileged to be able to represent Team GB and CofC in the upcoming Games," Lawrence said. "This is a dream come true to play in the Olympics and for Great Britain."
Lawrence, the lone current collegian and youngest player on the squad at age 22, is joined on the Great Britain Olympic Team roster by current Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng, who starred at Duke, former Duquesne forward Kieron Achara, former Illinois center Robert Archibald, former Arizona State center Eric Boateng, Dan Clark, Joel Freeland, former Long Island guard Kyle Johnson, former Wofford guard Mike Lenzly, former George Washington big man Pops Mensah-Bonsu, former Kent State point guard Nate Reinking and former Villanova forward Andrew Sullivan.
All 12 players will be making their Olympic Games debut and will be searching for Team GB's first ever Olympic win on home soil. Lawrence has been training with the Great Britain National Team in Houston, Texas, and in the UK since he departed Charleston in June. He scored a team-high 19 points in an exhibition overtime loss to Nigeria on June 22.
"Cutting down to a final 12 is always difficult," said Team GB Head Coach Chris Finch, who is currently an assistant coach for the NBA's Houston Rockets. "We had a really productive camp in Houston and to finally announce the Olympic team here in Loughborough is fantastic. The next four weeks provide us with outstanding competition leading up to the Olympics, which is just what is required before doing battle within our group come Games time."
A 2012 All-Southern Conference Second Team (media) and NABC All-District 22 Second Team selection, Lawrence turned in a stellar junior season having been one of the initial candidates considered for the 2012 Bob Cousy Award which is given annually to the nation's top point guard. He turned in his first 100+ assist season of his career with 171 and ranked second in the league in assists per game (5.5 - No. 31 nationally), first in steals (1.9 avg - No. 57 nationally) and third in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.06).
"To make the Olympic team for any country is a huge honor, accomplishment and privilege," CofC Head Coach Doug Wojcik said. "To play for your home country and in front of your own nation is even more special. Andrew has worked incredibly hard to accomplish this feat and deserves every accolade he receives."
Lawrence has previous international playing experience serving as team captain of the Under-20 Great Britain National Team in the summer of 2010 and having competed for the Great Britain Under-23 Team going 2-1 against Germany in the summer of 2011. He was one of two players to be later called up to the men's national team training camp.
He played in the 2011 London Invitational, a pre-Olympic tournament, against France, Croatia, Serbia, China and Australia averaging 7.5 points and 1.0 assists in four games played. His best performance came against Serbia where he went 5-of-10 from the floor including 2-of-3 from three-point land, scoring 12 points. Lawrence made the final cut for the 12-player Great Britain National Team roster that traveled to Lithuania for the 2011 European Championships.
He holds U.S. and British dual citizenship as his father, Renaldo Lawrence, is a South Carolina native and played at Appalachian State from 1978-79 for former CofC Head Coach Bobby Cremins prior to being drafted by the San Diego Clippers in the eighth round of the 1979 NBA Draft and enjoying a professional playing career overseas.
"I'm really excited and proud of Andrew," Cremins said. "This is a dream come true for him. He worked his tail off after the season to prepare for this opportunity. It has been an important goal for him to achieve and I'm so happy all of his hard work has paid off."
The British Team's progress on the court has been strong in the years building up to the London Games. They qualified for EuroBasket for the first time ever in 2009, and at the 2011 event they secured their first wins at the tournament by defeating Poland and Portugal.
The squad will find out who their first-round Olympic opponents will be on July 29, when the qualifying campaign is complete. Team GB will be determined to place in the top four of a group that will most likely be comprised of Brazil, Spain, Australia and China, in order to progress beyond their six-team group and into the quarterfinals.
Follow Andrew Lawrence's Olympic journey via his Twitter account @Andrewcofc04 and the Great Britain Basketball Twitter account @gbbasketball.