WASHINGTON STATE’S signing today of junior college point guard Danny Lawhorn is far more than meets the eye. His joining the team instantly improves the offensive output of DaVonte Lacy, Royce Woolridge, Que Johnson, Dexter Kernich-Drew, Ikenna Iroegbu and Brett Boese.
“He really wants to find people. He’ll create shots for others -- I can see Dexter, Royce, DaVonte, Que, Ike and Brett being able to catch-and-shoot to a greater degree. We weren’t able to do that as much this season,” Cougar head coach Ken Bone told Cougfan.com today as he rushed between flights en route to see Klay Thompson play.
Those players are highly proficient at getting off quick jumpers in a single motion. But they need to be fed the ball in the right way and time to maximize those skills. To borrow a football phrase, they need to receive the ball on the "play side."
The loss of Reggie Moore at point guard was evident this past season when Woolridge and senior Mike Ladd, neither of whom had played point before, handled those duties. Both improved dramatically over the season, but other players weren’t consistently receiving the ball in places where they could make something happen with it.
“We desperately needed a point guard and Danny will instantly help us -- he’s super quick and a good ball handler,” Bone said.
Lawhorn has a pass-first mentality, as evidenced by the 8.43 assists per game he averaged this past season and 9.3 a year ago. He was second in the nation among JC players in assists this year and first last year.
But he can score, too. He averaged 9.8 points per game over the last two seasons. Mike Sullivan of ScoutNYPreps.com has described Lawhorn, a New York native, this way: "… a tough guard, willing to take the ball to the rim against the bigger bodies. He competes hard on both ends of the court. He has the New York attitude, fearless when it comes to taking the rock to the basket."
San Jacinto (Texas) JC coach Scott Gerander recently called the 5-foot-10 Lawhorn "the engine" of a club that won the regional championship and finished 24-6 this season.
Asked how many minutes per game he envisions Lawhorn playing in 2013-14, Bone was hesitant to offer a number, but said somewhere between 20 and 28 is a reasonable expectation at this stage. He said the balance of minutes at the point position will be filled by Woolridge and Iroegbu, an incoming combo guard.
LAWHORN’S PATH TO WSU IS ABOUT as circuitous as it gets. Along the way he verbally committed and decommitted to and from three colleges.
After averaging 15 points and 12 assists per game as a senior at South Kent High in Connecticut, he looked to be headed back home to New York to play at Fordham but a coaching change rerouted him to Robinson prep school in New Jersey for a year. At Robinson he committed verbally to Maryland-Eastern Shore before deciding to take the JC route.
And as a junior at Hartford (Conn.) Public High, he committed verbally to Boston College, but then re-opened matters after receiving offers from Rutgers, St. Bonaventure and others.
This time around, his offer sheet included Georgia, SMU, Kansas State and others.
"Danny comes across as confident, but with a chip on his shoulder," Bone said. "In that way he reminds me of two small guards I coached in the past -- Nate Robinson at Washington and Jeremiah Dominguez at Portland State, who was the conference MVP. They wanted to prove people wrong because of their size -- and they did pretty well I'd say. Danny is small but very, very determined, like them."
Lawhorn is 5-10, Robinson 5-9 and Dominguez 5-6.
"This is a good situation. He is stepping into an opportunity that is very good for him and for our team. He adds a dimension we need," Bone said.