UF MEN'S BASKETBALL
Former UF record-holder Lawrence praises Frazier's shooting
Published: Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 6, 2014 at 7:39 p.m.
On the couch with his three teenage sons, former Florida guard Joe Lawrence watched on TV as UF sophomore guard Michael Frazier II broke his record for most 3-pointers in game.
“I watch just about every game,” Lawrence said. “I've got three teenage boys. They're big Gator fans. It was funny because they know I hit 9 out of 10 in a game, and when Frazier got to nine they were asking me 'Is he going to break it?' And then they were cheering when he got to 10 and 11.”
Lawrence's nine 3-pointers in a game on Dec. 27, 1986, stood up for more than 27 years before Frazier shattered the mark with 11 3-pointers and 37 points Tuesday night at South Carolina. Lawrence, a financial planner who lives in the West Palm Beach suburb Wellington, said he's surprised the record stood up for as long as it did considering the emphasis on the 3-point shot as a weapon during Florida coach Billy Donovan's 18-year tenure.
“There's been so many high-volume shooters that have come through there,” Lawrence said. “I mean, 10 attempts was the most I ever had in a game from 3. That was it right there, and I hit nine of them. I thought with guys like Kenny Boynton and Erving Walker, how many those guys would chuck up, they didn't hit a high percentage, but I thought one of those guys would put up 22 in a game and maybe hit nine or 10 once.”
Instead, it took a shooter like Frazier to break the mark. The 6-foot-4 guard from Tampa made 11 of 18 attempts, getting several open looks in transition against South Carolina's fatigued defense. Frazier leads the Southeastern Conference in shooting percentage (.441) and is second in the league in 3-pointers made (94).
“I don't know him personally, but people around the program that I stay in touch with say he's a great guy who is one of the hardest workers on the team, too,” Lawrence said. “I like those kind of guys because I always thought that I was one of the guys that was always the first one in the gym and the last one to leave, and they tell me he's like that, too. Shooting is something, there's a natural talent to it, but there's also a lot of repetition involved. So if you don't put the work into it, the talent alone isn't going to make you a great shooter.”
Lawrence isn't too nostalgic about his nine 3-pointer game because it came in a loss. California knocked off Florida 83-80 at the Rainbow Classic in Honolulu, Hawaii, behind a big night from point guard Kevin Johnson, who went on to become an NBA All-Star with the Phoenix Suns and is now the mayor of Sacramento, Calif.
“As a player, no matter how good of a game you might have, personally it definitely detracts from it if you don't win the game,” Lawrence said.
But Lawrence takes pride in the fact that he shot 90 percent (9 of 10) from 3-point range that night.
“That single-game percentage may never be broken,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence ended up shooting 50.4 percent (64 of 127) from 3-point range in 1986-87, a record that still stands. When his playing career at UF ended, Lawrence was picked in the first round of the Continental Basketball Association draft. The salary offer was for $15,000 a season.
“I asked if it was negotiable,” Lawrence said. “They told me it wasn't.”
An engineering major, Lawrence asked former UF head coach Norm Sloan for some advice. When Sloan told him his chances of reaching the NBA were slim, Lawrence asked to become a graduate assistant at UF and pursue his Masters in Business Administration. After three years as an assistant, including being on the staff of the 1989 team that won an SEC title, Lawrence didn't maintain the itch to coach.
In 1993, Lawrence joined the West Palm Beach-based financial company Alliance Bernstein, which currently manages $450 billion in assets. Lawrence heads institutional management in the Southeastern region.
“The state of Florida is a client,” Lawrence said. “The state of Louisiana, those types of massive pension funds are the types of clients that I deal with and our firm deals with.”
Lawrence said he has no regrets about not pursuing a career in professional basketball.
“It worked out,” Lawrence said. “You always wonder. 'Could I have tried it for a couple of years?' But it's one of those things, just an honest assessment in the mirror and having Norm say, you are probably not going to be in that one percent (to make the NBA) was probably the best decision, because then you end up wasting two or three or four years.”