Jermaine Lawrence pulled the trigger on his 18th birthday.
The 6-foot-10 Sparta (N.J.) Pope John XXIII forward announced on tumblr that he’s headed to Cincinnati over St. John’s and UNLV.
“My family and I would like to thank all the schools that showed interest,” he wrote. “I’m humble[d] to have had the experience of being recruited.
“I appreciate and thank those in New York who have supported me. It was a tough decision, however I do believe UC is a better fit for me.”
There was some talk that Lawrence would take one final visit to St. John’s before deciding, but that never happened. He ended up taking officials to Cincinnati and UNLV and unofficials to St. John’s, but never an official visit there.
The No. 7 power forward in the Class of 2013, Lawrence is a New York City native who left Cardozo High in Queens last season for Pope John.
He is the latest New York or New Jersey player to commit to Bearcats coach Mick Cronin, who recently watched Lawrence work out at Pope John.
“New York City players have gone there and then been comfortable,” Lawrence told ESPN.com. “I started thinking, Why can’t I be comfortable there?”
Lawrence missed the first half of the season with a hand injury, but recently returned with a vengeance. On Saturday, he went for 19 points, 7 assists, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks without playing the fourth quarter in a 67-41 County win over South Hunterdon.
“He’s so quick and skilled, I think he’ll make an immediate impact,” Pope John coach Jason Hasson told SNY.tv. “They have a great coaching staff. They worked extremely hard to get him and they’re going to make him a lot tougher, which is what he really needs to get to the NBA. He needs to get more physical and be able to take bumps and be more physical.
“Since he’s been back, he’s been unbelievable. I hope the people who vote for the McDonald’s All-American Game take him into consideration because he’s definitely a McDonald’s All-American type player.”
Said longtime New York recruiting expert Tom Konchalski: “He brings to [Cincinnati] a guy who has a limitless ceiling potential-wise. He covers the court like a blanket. He has great athletic ability. He can step out and shoot the 3. And he obviously needs to get stronger. And what Mick Cronin brings to him is a passion for the game. He’ll be playing for a guy that will drive him. He’s a terrific kid, but right now he’s very passive. He’s as nice of a person on the court as he is off, which is a sure formula for failure. I don’t think he realizes how good he can be and how hard he has to work to reach that level.
“Mick Cronin will really push him and hopefully Mick Cronin’s passion for the game will be contagious.”