Jack Majewski speaks to GB player Andrew Lawrence after his performance in the London 2012 International Basketball Invitational in preparation for the European Championships in Lithuania.
JM: Andrew, two years ago you were playing junior basketball in England. Now you are successfully holding court against such playmaking masters like Tony Parker, Marko Popovic and Milos Teodosic-what a journey! It must be such a massive learning curve for you?
AL: It has been an amazing experience for me. Starting was a true privilege, but the main thing is to be on the team. To be honest I never expected to make it so far.
JM: Do you have a sense of almost historic moment when you, Devon and Ogo can lead a wave of young, exciting immensely talented GB players to real international success? Even more importantly you can establish
GB as a one of the European super-powers for decades?
AL: The amount of talent coming from Great Britain is truly amazing. I really believe that we can compete with all these teams here [London 2012 Test Event].I know that it is sometimes difficult to take it when we are losing games we should have won. But it is a great learning experience and we are not far from beating them.
JM: What does need to happen in England to produce more Andrew Lawrence’s and bring basketball to the mainstream of sporting public conscious?
AL: First of all there needs to be more money in the game. There is no money in English basketball. From my experience in the USA I can see that there is money thrown at basketball at every level. Even the youngest players are well funded. Another matter is lack of facilities, which is obviously connected to the poor financial state of the game. There is no place for young players to train properly. There must be more investment into the game before we see some significant improvements. Obviously the game needs far more exposure in the media.
JM: What about the coaching system for junior groups and lack of international contact?
AL. How Devon said, obviously we don’t have enough contact with European basketball. There is only the European Championship and Future Stars which is not enough. Young players should play in Europe at least once a month. Playing abroad is a great way to educate young players.
JM. In contrary to Devon you decided to continue your basketball education in the USA. How difficult was it for you to adapt to the European game after 2 years in America?
AL: I really enjoyed my years in America which has been very tough for me. It is a completely different style to the European game. Being perfectly honest I much prefer the European game. I love watching the teams participating in this tournament and appreciate how tactically advanced they are.
JM: So what will be in the immediate future of you, Andrew?
AL: Obviously I would love to make the team for Lithuania. Then I’m back in America for 2 more years. It is needless to say that my dream is to be in the Olympic team next year.
JM: Don’t you think that playing in one of the European clubs would enhance your chances of making the Olympic team and even more importantly, prepare you better for the demands of international competition?
AL: Playing for the College of Charleston definitely didn’t harm my chances of making the GB team. At the present time I can’t envisage any changes in that matter. However the world of basketball changes so quickly that I can’t rule out a move to Europe. If something, crazily attractive happens of course I will consider it.
Photographs courtesy of Mansoor Ahmed Photography