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Gibbs' Lawrence decides on Miami

Gibbs High basketball forward Pat Lawrence said Tuesday that he had made a verbal commitment to attend the University of Miami. Lawrence, who played for Team Florida during the summer, said he will sign with the Hurricanes on Nov.

15.

"I don't think there is a better offer out there," said Lawrence, who had to sit out most of last season because he had transferred from Lakewood during his sophomore year. "I get to stay in Florida, and now I have the luxury and opportunity to play in the Big East."

Lawrence was referring to the Hurricanes' decision to join the competitive Big East conference.

"At Miami, I'll have the chance to get some playing time and gain some national exposure, all in due time," Lawrence said. "I have a lot going for me by committing to Miami."

Lawrence, 6 feet 8 and agile, spurned offers from Michigan, Alabama (where his brother Anthony will be a junior), Florida State, Florida, Louisville and Iowa State.

"It wasn't really that hard of a decision once Miami joined the Big East," said Lawrence, who expects to play low post for the Hurricanes. "Miami's offense is set up a lot like ours, and that will help me adjust better to the collegiate style."

Most of Lawrence's exposure has come outside the high school realm; he starred in 19-and-under AAU play for Team Florida. He is part of a prominent squad at Gibbs, however. The Gladiators have lost to Jacksonville Ribault and Lakeland in state semifinals the past two seasons.

"This decision takes a lot of pressure off me," Lawrence said. "I can concentrate more on my playing, and you will see me play my best this season. It's going to be fun."

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