Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
Catholic League Exodus; Parrom, Lawrence Recruiting Update
The recent decision by former St. Raymond’s standout Omari Lawrence to transfer to South Kent, a prep school in Connecticut, has culminated a mass exodus of talent from the New York Catholic League.
Lawrence will join his former St. Ray’s teammate and fellow rising senior Kevin Parrom at South Kent. Ashton Pankey and Devon Collierleft Archbishop Molloy and All Hallows, respectively, for Bob Hurley’s storied St. Anthony program in Jersey City. And there is much speculation that Bishop Loughlin star Doron Lamb may attend Oak Hill in Mouth of Wilson, Va.
“New York’s New York,” said Gary Charles, head of the New York Panthers grassroots program and an advisor to Parrom and Lawrence. “They leave, somebody else steps up. That’s the great thing about New York.”
Lawrence, a 6-3, 175-pound shooting guard with high-major interest, visited South Kent three weeks ago and committed to new coach Kelvin Jefferson last Tuesday. Both players can apply for financial need to pay the $45,000 annual tuition, Jefferson said.
“It’s based on need,” the coach said. “If you have a big need, then you get whatever it is that’s needed.”
Lawrence’s decision to transfer followed that of Parrom, who parted ways with St. Ray’s after allegedly punching St. Ray’s head coach Oliver Antigua in the face during a dispute.
Now, South Kent is reaping the benefits. The program that produced incoming Rutgers freshman big man Christian Morris will get Parrom and Lawrence, as well as Mike Burwell, an All-New Jersey guard out of Cardinal McCarrick.
Staten Island big man Danny Jennings could also wind up at South Kent, but Jefferson said he wasn’t sure where Jennings would end up. Jennings spent last year at Oak Hill, which doesn’t have fifth-year players.
“With Burwell, I got three guards who can score and put the ball in the basket,” the coach said. “They all share the ball and I’m excited about that. You need good guards to win and those two (Parrom and Lawrence) are real good guards.”
Pankey and Collier, both rising juniors, left their schools under different circumstances. Both got into trouble at their former schools and were seeking greater discipline, which they will mostly certainly get under Hurley, a near-certain future Naismith Hall of Famer. St. Anthony has also picked up two other transfers from Burlington (NJ) Life Center Academy: 5-10 guard Eli Carter and 6-6 forward Derrick Williams.
“Obviously, the Catholic League just lost their top players,” Charles said. “The Omari-Kevin thing is different fom the other kids. If this incident didn’t happen between Kevin and Oliver, those kids would still be there.”
Lamb, a talented sophomore who was at the Steve Nash Academy this past week at Kean University, said he was unsure where he would be next year, but Oak Hill coach Steve Smith said Lamb’s mother had inquired about sending him there.
What does all this mean for the Catholic League?
Time for some new players to step up because a mass exodus is under way.
Charles said that Parrom and Lawrence both enjoyed their visit to Marquette this past week, but that neither player committed.
“They liked the visit but not enough to make a commitment,” Charles said. “They still want to see some other places. They’re scheduled to take an unofficial next week to Virginia for their Elite Camp. They will also visit camps at UConn and Louisville this August.
Charles said Parrom was close to committing to Xavier, “but his father said, ‘We should allow other teams an opportunity also.'”
Book Richardson, who has known Parrom since he was a young boy, is now an assistant at Xavier.
Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.