[Sign Up Now] to Receive Our FREE Daily SCVTV-SCVNews Digest by E-Mail

Santa Clarita CA
Today in
S.C.V. History
June 5
1968 - Saugus resident Elizabeth Evans struck by bullet meant for Sen. Robert F. Kennedy [story]
Elizabeth Evans

By: Mason Nesbitt, Sports Information Director

Lawrence Russell was already running when he received the ball with 4.8 seconds remaining in the first round of the 2018 NAIA national tournament.

The Master’s University men’s basketball team trailed by two points as Russell rushed the length of the floor and banked in an off-balance shot at the buzzer to send the game to overtime.

The play was arguably Russell’s most iconic as a Mustang, and it serves as a picture of the whirlwind nature in which he signed his first professional contract this week.

Monday, Russell’s girlfriend sent game film to the Halifax Hurricanes of the National Basketball League of Canada, and by Thursday night, Russell had agreed to resume his basketball career after a two-year hiatus.

TMU Alum Lawrence Russell

“I’m still in shock that I signed and I’m going,” Russell said. “It all happened in 72 hours.”

After becoming the 25th Master’s men’s basketball player to sign a professional contract, Russell will travel to eastern Canada in September for a season that will run through March. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Russell said he’s been told the season is expected to start on time.

The Hurricanes are a consistent playoff team in the NBL, Canada’s top professional basketball league. They were 8-16 before the remainder of the 2019-20 campaign was canceled in March, but they are only four seasons removed from winning the league’s championship. They envision Russell as a player who can help them get back there.

Specifically, they see the 6-foot-4 Russell as a point guard. Meaning, he will be a team’s primary ball-hander for the first time after sharing that responsibility at Master’s with another future pro, Hansel Atencia.

“They liked my decision-making and liked the way I play on the ball,” Russell said of Halifax, which plays its home games in Scotiabank Centre, a building with a seating capacity of roughly 11,000.

At Master’s, Russell was crucial to a considerable turnaround. The Mustangs won four games in 2015-2016 before Russell arrived as a community college transfer the following offseason.

Master’s proceeded to win 56 games during Russell’s two years on campus. He was an honorable mention NAIA All-American as a junior and a first-teamer as a senior.

The Mustangs won their first Golden State Athletic Conference regular season title in 2018 and earned back-to-back GSAC tournament titles.

That was, however, the last the basketball world would hear from Russell for a while.

Lawrence Russell Signing pro recrop

After turning down an offer to play in Germany (“I just didn’t pull the trigger, I honestly don’t know why. I don’t think I was ready to go”), Russell moved home to Washington state, entered the work force and contemplated a career as a coach or firefighter.

He exercised and competed in pick-up games, even participating in a few tournaments. But a desire to pursue a professional basketball career waned.

Recently, that changed.

A month ago, Russell’s girlfriend, Alexis Garrison, asked if he’d like to play basketball again. He said he would.

So, when Garrison, a college volleyball coach, heard that Halifax was looking to fill out its roster, she emailed Russell’s name and then his game film to the team, not necessarily believing anything would come of it.

Tuesday, a contract arrived. The Hurricanes needed an answer in two days.

“We were talking about the pros and cons and I decided to go for it,” Russell said. “It’s always been a passion of mine to play, and I still have the passion to play. I know I do now.

“In the past, I just didn’t see my life going that direction. Now that I look back on it, I still have the passion to play. I still have the desire to play. I’m still hungry to play. It’s just kind of one of those things where it happens at the right moment.”

This was that moment.

Sitting beside blue and white balloons that matched Halifax’s team colors, and wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a Mustang “M”, Russell made it official Thursday.

“This opportunity came along and everyone was like, ‘You can’t pass up on it, take the chance,’ and here I am,” Russell said.

Russell said his time at Master’s had a major impact on him.

“Coach Starr always taught me to think about the team, play the team game, think about the next play and always keep my head up. Never get down on myself,” Russell said. “And he taught me that I can change the game in many other ways than simply scoring.

“… He really changed my life when I was at Master’s.”

Starr is happy Russell is getting an opportunity to fulfill a dream.

“He is a flat-out winner,” Starr said. “He was a leader and a huge reason for the recent turnaround in the TMU basketball program.”

Comment On This Story
COMMENT POLICY: We welcome comments from individuals and businesses. All comments are moderated. Comments are subject to rejection if they are vulgar, combative, or in poor taste.
REAL NAMES ONLY: All posters must use their real individual or business name. This applies equally to Twitter account holders who use a nickname.


You can be the first one to leave a comment.

Leave a Comment

Related Content
Friday, Jun 5, 2020
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond will release the California Department of Education’s guidance document, “Stronger Together: A Guidebook for the Safe Reopening of California’s Public Schools,” on Monday, June 8.
Friday, Jun 5, 2020
Spearheading the many marches and messages through megaphones in the name of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement in the Santa Clarita Valley on Thursday were some of the community’s very own students.
Wednesday, Jun 3, 2020
The city of Santa Clarita and the city's Art Commission are recognizing the recent milestone of 2020 graduates in a virtual “Graduation Cap Showcase,” with a deadline for entries extended to Monday, June 8.
Wednesday, Jun 3, 2020
The Hart High School Class of 2020 graduated Tuesday in two special ceremonies for Hart seniors: a drive-thru graduation in the morning and a follow-up virtual ceremony in the evening.
Wednesday, Jun 3, 2020
Desperate to patch a COVID-19-sized budget hole, the California Legislature is warming to the once-taboo subject of sports betting and has begun handicapping its potential tax windfall.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
L.A. County Public Health confirmed Friday 1,445 new cases of COVID-19 and 36 new deaths, including the 22nd death in the SCV since the pandemic began.
Friday COVID-19 Roundup: 131 New SCV Cases, Another Fatality
After hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets in Santa Clarita on Thursday, about 100 took a knee outside City Hall on Friday to support the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minnesota.
Education Over Violence: Black Lives Matter Group Returns to SCV
Access to bail will dramatically expand as the result of a decision this week by the Public Defender Ricardo Garcia and Alternate Public Defender Erika Anzoategui in partnership with The Bail Project.
L.A. County to Dramatically Expand Access to Bail
The Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce is partnering with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on a national initiative to address inequality of opportunity, SCV Chamber officials said Friday.
SCV Chamber Joins National Initiative to Address Inequality of Opportunity
The Santa Clarita City Council will hold special and regular meetings at City Hall on Tuesday, June 9, and hear public comments from citizens virtually via Zoom.
June 9: Santa Clarita City Council Special, Regular Meetings
Earlier this month, Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva furthered tensions with the county’s Board of Supervisors with his claims his department is understaffed and underfunded.
County Responds to Villanueva’s Claims About Budget, Staffing Issues
California Governor Gavin Newsom on Friday called for new police crowd control procedures and the banning of a chokehold that stops the flow of blood to the brain.
Newsom Tells California Police to Stop Using Carotid Chokehold
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond will release the California Department of Education’s guidance document, “Stronger Together: A Guidebook for the Safe Reopening of California’s Public Schools,” on Monday, June 8.
June 8: Thurmond to Issue State Guidance for Schools Reopening
The Civilian Oversight Commission for the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department will host a virtual community listening session on Thursday, June 11, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
June 11: Virtual Town Hall with Sheriff’s Oversight Commission
As a teenager, my father took me to Metropolitan State Mental Hospital several times, not for admission, but to learn how mental health affected his clients. Knowing my interest in medicine, he felt it was an opportunity to put my feet in someone else’s shoes.
Hairline Difference | Doctor’s Diary with Dr. Gene Dorio
A rumored protest in the Santa Clarita Valley became a reality Thursday, as an estimated 800 people marched, loudly chanting George Floyd’s name and “Black Lives Matter,” only to conclude serenely outside the SCV Sheriff’s Station.
Hundreds Turn Out for Peaceful Protest March in Santa Clarita
Spearheading the many marches and messages through megaphones in the name of George Floyd and the Black Lives Matter movement in the Santa Clarita Valley on Thursday were some of the community’s very own students.
SCV Students Lead Call for Change
Detectives from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Missing Persons Unit seek the public’s assistance in locating Hector Aguilera, a 64-year-old Hispanic man.
Detectives Seek Help to Find At-Risk Man Last Seen in Valencia
The Civilian Oversight Commission for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department issued a statement Thursday, in the wake of the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis May 25 and subsequent protests nationwide including Los Angeles County and Santa Clarita.
LASD Civilian Oversight Commission Mourns Killing of George Floyd
1968 - Saugus resident Elizabeth Evans struck by bullet meant for Sen. Robert F. Kennedy [story]
Elizabeth Evans
William S. Hart Union High School District sent an email to parents regarding a social media post by a former Saugus High School volunteer football coach, in which "target practice" was mentioned in reference to the Santa Clarita protest Thursday.
Hart District Disavows Ties to Former Coach
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed Thursday 1,469 new cases of COVID-19 and 44 new deaths due to the virus countywide, and a total of 1,874 cases reported in the Santa Clarita Valley since the pandemic began, 117 more than reported Wednesday.
Thursday COVID-19 Roundup: 119,807 Statewide, 1,874 SCV Cases
In light of the peaceful protests we have seen today in our City, and in consultation with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, the City of Santa Clarita is rescinding the curfew for this evening. There will be no curfew tonight in #SantaClarita.
Update: City Rescinds Curfew
After several hundred protesters gathered for what had been a peaceful afternoon demonstration Thursday, law enforcement officials cleared a corner at Valencia Boulevard and McBean Parkway in response to a report of a possible safety hazard.
Hundreds of Protestors Gather in SCV; ‘Suspicious Package’ Investigated
As a youngster, “I had a dream” we would all have the same opportunity and be treated equality. A lot of work is still needed to make this dream a reality.
Violating Curfew | Doctor’s Diary with Dr. Gene Dorio
As rumored protests are planned for the Santa Clarita Valley Thursday, Los Angeles County’s COVID-19 testing site at College of the Canyons has been closed for the day.
COC COVID-19 Testing Site Closed Thursday
The pursuit of a suspected reckless driver in Canyon Country stopped abruptly when the suspect slammed into another car, then fled the scene, leading deputies on a foot pursuit on Highway 14.
Pursuit With Reckless Driver Sends One to Hospital
1925 - Newhall Constable Jack Pilcher killed in the line of duty in handgun accident [story]
Jack Pilcher
In an emergency meeting at City Hall Wednesday afternoon, the Santa Clarita City Council unanimously adopted a resolution declaring a local emergency amid civil unrest in the Southern California region and set a 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfew for the city Thursday night.
City Council Declares Emergency, Sets 6 p.m. Curfew Thursday (Video)
%d bloggers like this: