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January 26, 2006

Five-star junior heading to ACC

Gani Lawal, a 6-foot-8, 205-pound power forward from Norcross (Ga.) High School, has made his college decision. The five-star forward didn't surprise a lot of people when he announced his decision to play at Georgia Tech on Thursday afternoon at a press conference at his school.

Lawal, the No. 19 player in the class of 2007, said the decision was a tough one considering his other options - Kentucky and Wake Forest - but in the end, Georgia Tech won out.

"It had to do with Paul Hewitt and the staff," Lawal said. "Obviously it has a great academic reputation and you can't beat that. The school is great for me in terms of being a scholar and an athlete. And it's in the ACC."

Hewitt identified Lawal as a top target early in the process and was the lead recruiter from the start. Hewitt has been to Norcross at least three times this season, including on Tuesday night, when Lawal says he made up his mind.

"Coach Hewitt has recruited me from the start of my sophomore year. Every time that I talk to him he has been up front and honest with me," Lawal said. "All of the coaches that were recruiting me were but with him I know that I trusted everything he said. I know he's going to make me a better person and a better player. He's a no nonsense guy that is going to work for you if you work for him."

Lawal was a familiar face on game day at Georgia Tech. The quick drive down from Gwinnett County may have had the upper hand in his decision, as opposed to the distance to both Kentucky and Wake Forest. Lawal did not visit either one of his other finalists.

"It was tough," Lawal said. "Both of those schools had elements to them that I really liked.

"Wake Forest is in the ACC and they have great pride and pageantry and the tradition. Plus coach (Skip) Prosser is a great coach and a great guy. With Kentucky it is the same thing. They have a rich tradition that people take pride in and have the success and great players on top of that. It was hard to say no to both of them."

Lawal is the first player to commit to Georgia Tech in the class of 2007 and the 36th junior to commit early in the top 100 rankings.


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