By ADAM ZAGORIA & SEVE COUSINS
NEW YORK — Jermaine Lawrence didn’t play in Pope John XXIII’s 75-62 loss to Brooklyn South Shore Monday night at the Big Apple Invitational at Baruch College.
The 6-foot-10 Lawrence has yet to play in a game this season while recovering from hand surgery, but is expected to announce soon for Cincinnati, St. John’s or UNLV.
Cincinnati coach Mick Cronin is expected to watch him work out today at Pope John.
“He’s been working out in the gym a lot more than he was a few weeks ago,” Pope John coach Jason Hasson told SNY.tv. “He’s cleared to do everything but full contact at this point. I think it’s a matter of time before he’s cleared to do full contact.
“So we’re taking steps in the right direction and he is feeling a lot better than he has in the past so I think it’s only a matter of time.
“But we’re not going to play him before he’s cleared and before he’s fully healthy. We’re not going to risk his future or his career over a high school basketball game.”
Lawrence’s handler refused to allow him to be interviewed following Monday’s game, but in a recent interview he said he was frustrated by the injury.
“It’s been hard,” Lawrence told SNY.tv Jan. 12.
“I’ve been sitting out since September. It’s been real nerve-racking not knowing what’s going to happen, but it’s been good to watch my team really compete against highly-rated teams.”
Without Lawrence, UConn-bound point guard Terrence Samuel had 17 points, six assists and three steals for South Shore and picked up his second MVP award of the weekend. He also earned one Saturday when South Shore edged Princeton (Md.) Day, 64-63, on Samuel’s game-winning layup.
Pope John (6-5) came out firing on all cylinders as it took South Shore an entire quarter to adjust to the dominating presence of sophomore big man Moustapha Diagne, who finisehed with 25 points and 16 rebounds. Pope John led 19-14 after one quarter.
But South Shore’s relentless pressure was too much for Pope John and their young freshman point guard, Bryce Aiken, who finished with 12 points and seven assists. The scrappy bunch from Brooklyn created turnovers into fast-break points and scored on every available opportunity .
The Vikings had a slew of different ball-handlers and slashers to assist Samuel in picking apart Pope John.
Townson commit Shamiek Sheppard added 17 points in the win .
**UConn-bound big man Kentan Facey had 12 points, 12 rebounds and nine blocks as Long Island Lutheran beat Bayside, 58-55. The 6-9 Facey is long, thin and raw. He needs to get in the weight room and get stronger, and he is raw offensively. But he has soft hands near the basket and has good instincts as a rebounder and shot-blocker. “My basketball IQ is a lot higher than last year,” he told Dom Amore of the Hartford Courant. “Defensive positioning – I understand the game a more.” Facey and his team will be in the SNY Invitational Friday and Saturday at City College. St. Anthony, riding a 78-game winning streak, Boys & Girls and Cardinal Hayes are also in the event.
**6-5 Vermont Academy wing Richard Williams of New York committed to Hofstra at the event. He also considered St. Peter’s, Kent State and St. Bonaventure. ”They have been recruiting me the longest,” he told HoopDreamsMag.com. “I have built a great relationship with the coaching staff, most importantly the Head coach, Mo Cassara, I just felt very comfortable.”
**Miami-bound PG DeAndre Burnett went for 25 Monday as Massanutten Military beat Vermont Academy, 77-63.
**5-11 PG Jahmel Taylor of Los Angeles Pacific Hills committed to Washington, according to Scout.com.
**Former Fordham G Devon McMillan is headed to D-2 CW Post, his brother told SNY.tv. “Coach [Chris Casey] used to be the assistant at St. John’s, who we are very familiar with,” Dwan McMillan said. “They also have four other D-1 transfers.”
**Seton Hall head coach Kevin Willard and assistant Dan McHale watched 2014 wing Marial Shayok of Blair Academy when he had 15 points Sunday in a win over Linden. Shayok holds offers from Seton Hall and Boston College, and has interest from Rutgers, Providence, Michigan, Virginia, Georgia and VCU. “He’s strong and agile and his shot is improving,” Blair coach Joe Mantegna told SNY.tv. “He can guard four positions. He’s a great teammate, has high character, is a willing passer and and a winning player. He’s still a little under the radar but won’t be for long.”