Five years after he abandoned his dreams of playing professional soccer only months after he began dabbling in basketball, College of Charleston guard Andrew Lawrence still remembers the stunned reactions of his friends and coaches.
Lawrence was a promising striker on the U-16 team for Chelsea F.C., perennially one of the strongest sides in the Premier League. The London native isn't certain he would ever have been one of the lucky few who receive a call-up, but he believes he had enough talent to play soccer professionally in England's second or third division at the very least.
"It was tough because I was decent in soccer and I could have had a career in it," Lawrence said. "Basketball is not as high-profile as a lot of other sports in England, especially soccer, so all my friends gave me a little bit of a hard time. This summer, they realized why I did it."
Indeed any lingering doubts about Lawrence's gamble melted away in July when the 6-foot-1 senior learned he made Great Britain's Olympic basketball team. Lawrence was one of only two U.S. collegiate players to play in the Olympics, joining Saint Mary's senior Matthew Dellavedova, who started at point guard for Australia.
Having the chance to play in the Olympics in his hometown was a dream opportunity for Lawrence, so it's difficult for him to pinpoint one favorite memory.
He joined the rest of his countrymen and women entering Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony as 80,000 fans chanted, "Team GB." He shook hands and snapped photos with numerous Olympic luminaries, from Michael Phelps, to Usain Bolt to British double gold medal-winning distance runner Mo Farrah. And he enjoyed some success on the court, carving out a spot in his team's rotation and helping spark Great Britain to a win over China for the country's first-ever basketball victory in the Olympics.Read More »from SoCon Preview: Trading soccer for hoops has paid off for College of Charleston’s Andrew Lawrence