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From Big Ten to Sun Belt, it’s all the same for Lawson

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The Appalachian Online

Junior forward Jacob Lawson has brought all of the energy and explosiveness that App State expected from him when he decided to transfer from Purdue for the 2013-14 college basketball season.

Following NCAA rules, Lawson had to sit out his sophomore year because of his transfer. With two eligible seasons to play, Lawson has made the most of his first season with the Mountaineers.

Lawson started 14 games his freshman season at Purdue, averaging 11 minutes per game, 2.2 points, 2.2 rebounds and 0.6 blocks, while shooting .532 percent from the field.

Lawson entered Purdue with high expectations as he was ranked as one of the top high school prospects in the nation as a senior, and helped lead Oak Ridge Military Academy to a 33-6 record.

During his freshman year, Lawson’s Boilermakers went 22-13 with a 10-8 Big Ten Conference mark.

However, the Reidsville native wanted to come back to his home state.

Returning to North Carolina also meant Lawson had a chance to reunite with some high school teammates.

“I missed it in Boone,” Lawson said. “I had friends on the team who were on my team in high school, like Michael Obacha, Mike Neal and Jay Canty.”

After playing in the Big Ten, Lawson said the differences in Sun Belt Conference play have been interesting, but they haven’t caused his love of the game to waver.

“Purdue was faster paced and [had] bigger guys, but coming to App State and moving to the Sun  Belt Conference, it’s still competitive and the physicality and athleticism is still there,” Lawson said.

Outside of the basketball court, Lawson said West Lafayette, Indiana and Boone only share one thing in common: snow.

“The towns are totally different,” Lawson said. “Its kind of hard to compare because Purdue is more country and Boone is more mountains. It snows a lot both places.”

First year coach Jim Fox said Lawson has brought a lot of energy that the team has been missing and has brought a much-needed force on the court.

In the team’s latest win over ULM, Lawson had one of his better games of the season, amassing eight points on 4-6 shooting to go along with six rebounds, three blocks and three steals in 16 minutes of play.

“He brings energy,” Fox said. “He has great bounce, he can alter shots defensively, he can attack with the dribble on offense and we really don’t have that until he brings it.”

Junior guard Chris Burgess said Lawson stepped into his role on the team this season without much trouble.

“I think he’s doing a pretty good job transitioning,” Burgess said. “He’s a big athlete and can do many things. He is very versatile.”

While Lawson and his teammates are happy he is finally on the court, he said redshirting as a sophomore due to the transfer has actually been an aid to his maturation as a player.

“I feel like I came back a little early because I had torn my achilles in high school,” Lawson said. “I wanted to really lock down on my ball handling, and my jump shot has improved and my explosiveness really came along while redshirting.”

Fox said if Lawson has the right mindset, he can become an even bigger difference maker for the Mountaineers.

“His role is what he determines it to be,” Fox said. “He can alter and guard shots defensively and be a pest on defense.”

Lawson said he thinks he still has room to grow as a player.

“I want to work on ball handling skills and my jump shot, which is coming along, but I want to improve that and work on that more,” Lawson said.

The Mountaineers have two games remaining in the season and have their attention on Texas State who travels to Boone for a Thursday night game set to begin at 7:30 p.m.

Story: Jason Huber, Intern Sports Reporter

Photo: Malik Rahili, Visual Managing Editor 

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