Geno & Mase

With all the talk about freshmen coming in and changing the face of St. John’s basketball, there is one thing that is often overlooked: leadership.

When someone thinks of St. John’s basketball and leadership, the first thing that comes to mind is Eugene Lawrence.
Coming out of Lincoln High School for the 2004-05 season as a two-star recruit, Lawrence was not exactly tabbed as someone who would become the face of St. John’s
basketball. But through hard work, Lawrence became a starter in his freshman season, getting the call to start in 19 games.

As a result, his teammates looked up to him and he was named team captain during his junior season. Lawrence doesn’t take his captaincy lightly, and knows that with so many fresh faces this season, he will be looked upon to guide the team when things get rough.

“[Anthony Mason, Jr.] and myself will have big roles this year, probably bigger than we ever had,” Lawrence said. “Guys will look to us to step up and I think we’re ready for the challenge.”

After the transfers of Ricky Torres and Avery Patterson, in addition to the graduation of Lamont Hamilton and Daryl Hill, Lawrence’s role grew larger than many had expected it to be.

Mason, Jr., who has also been tabbed as a captain for the upcoming season in addition to Tomas Jasiulionis, will look to aid Lawrence in guiding the youngsters through their first season of collegiate play.

“The freshmen are young but they have heart,” Mason, Jr. said. “They played hard in the off-season and worked hard in the summer.”

Mason, Jr. and Lawrence will need to do more than lead, though, for this season to be a successful one. As such, the pair has been working out in the off-season to become more complete players on the court.

“I think losing weight helped me more with my explosiveness,” Lawrence said.

“I’ve been in the weight room a lot and working on my shot,” Mason, Jr. added, referring to his trying to put on some more muscle.

The incoming freshmen will need to do their part on the court as well. Leadership can only take a team so far, and at some point it comes down to playing as a team. In this case, the freshmen need to grow up fast.

“They’re not coming in as freshman,” Mason, Jr. said, “they’re coming in as NCAA players.”