I’ll admit, I was skeptical about Tyrin Lawrence going into the 2022-23 season.
As a freshman, Lawrence was lost for the season after seven games with a torn ACL. Last season, he averaged 3.8 ppg with an 88.8 Offensive Rating with a brutal 71.3 Offensive Rating in SEC games. That’s in “usually gets run off the team” territory. There’s precedent for a player improving on that — Luke Kornet, for instance, posted an 89.3 Offensive Rating as a freshman and was an All-SEC player as a senior, but Luke Kornet is 7’1”.
So I’ll be honest and admit that I wasn’t expecting much here, and really, Lawrence wasn’t very good for the first two months of the season: through January 10, he was averaging under 10 ppg and his Offensive Rating was under 100 (so below-average efficiency) in 9 of 16 games. Something started clicking with back-to-back 20-point games against Arkansas and Alabama; but a two-point performance at Texas A&M was followed by spending a night on the bench in the 101-44 debacle at Alabama.
That got his attention. Over the final 15 games of the season, Lawrence averaged 16.3 ppg, and it was an efficient 16.3 ppg. He sank a game-winning three at the buzzer to beat Tennessee, he scored 20 points four times after doing it three times in his Vanderbilt career prior to that, and he was Vanderbilt’s best player over the final month of the season.
And our reward for that was to wait for a month while he put his name in both the NBA Draft and the transfer portal, but he’s returning to Vanderbilt next season, and if the final month of the season represents real growth then Vanderbilt has a player to build next year’s team around. As for the grade — well, a good 15 games of basketball isn’t worth an A just because it happened at the end of the season instead of the beginning.