header image

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

Santa Clarita CA
Today in
S.C.V. History
January 18
1899 - Martin & Richard Wood buy J.H. Tolfree's Saugus Eating House, rename it Saugus Cafe [story]
Saugus Cafe

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, Jan 15, 2021
Late Friday afternoon, a group of parents and student-athletes gathered in front of the William S. Hart Union High School District office to urge the district to bring athletic-conditioning back to school campuses.
Friday, Jan 15, 2021
The Castaic Union School District governing board appointed a new president during its annual organizational board meeting last month.
Thursday, Jan 14, 2021
The William S. Hart Union High School District governing board voted 4-1 to suspend small cohorts returning to campus through Feb. 8.
Wednesday, Jan 13, 2021
Central Park is set to house two colorful obelisks as a memorial to two of the teenagers who died during the Saugus High School shooting in November 2019, following unanimous approval Tuesday from the Santa Clarita City Council.
Wednesday, Jan 13, 2021
The William S. Hart Union High School District has put a “pause” on a handful of literary classics after receiving concerns from both parents and students regarding their content.

Latest Additions to SCVNews.com
The California Department of Public Health, in coordination with Santa Clara County and the University of California San Francisco, on Sunday announced that an L452R variant of COVID-19 is increasingly being identified by viral genomic sequencing in multiple counties across the state, including Los Angeles County.
COVID-19 Variant First Found in Other Countries, States Now in California
Seeking to support Los Angeles County's efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic and the tragic impact on its residents, Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn are calling for additional flexibility in the county's vaccination effort to include as many residents as possible and a process to begin vaccinating those 65 and older.
Barger, Hahn Call for Expanded COVID Vaccination Effort in L.A. County
A federal class action filed Friday claims Bank of America failed to secure debit cards containing unemployment benefits for millions of Californians, leading to widespread fraud and making some cardholders unable to access needed funds during a pandemic.
Bank of America Sued for California Unemployment Fraud Scheme
The Los Angeles County Office of Emergency Management will be on high alert Monday night due to the potential of very strong wind and fire weather conditions in much of the county late tonight into Tuesday.
L.A. County on High Alert for Strong Wind, Fire Weather Conditions
1899 - Martin & Richard Wood buy J.H. Tolfree's Saugus Eating House, rename it Saugus Cafe [story]
Saugus Cafe
1994, 4:31 a.m. - Magnitude 6.7 Northridge earthquake rocks Santa Clarita Valley [video]
1926 - Newhall Community Hospital, est. 1922, opens in larger, more modern hospital building at 6th & Spruce streets [story]
Newhall Community Hospital
The death toll from the novel coronavirus pandemic surpassed 2 million on Friday and the World Health Organization warned the global health crisis may get even worse as people weary of restrictions let down their guard and contagious strains of the virus spread around the globe.
Pandemic Death Toll Hits 2 Million Worldwide
At least once a month, residents of the Cali Lake RV community, nestled in a quiet canyon off a rural part of Soledad Canyon Road, have had their power shut off due to Southern California Edison’s Public Safety Power Shutoffs.
Residents Mostly Impacted by Power Shutoffs Express Concern Over Ongoing Events
Late Friday afternoon, a group of parents and student-athletes gathered in front of the William S. Hart Union High School District office to urge the district to bring athletic-conditioning back to school campuses.
Parents, Student-Athletes Gather to Urge Hart District to Bring Athletics Back
A future open space trailhead in the Tesoro area will be named after a founding Santa Clarita city councilman, and a portion of land in Newhall after a family who has donated several acres of land to the city for open-space preservation.
City Council OKs Dedications in Tesoro Area, Newhall Pass Open Space
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health on Friday confirmed 258 new deaths and 15,051 new cases of COVID-19 countywide, with cases likely to reach over 1 million this weekend. In addition, the Santa Clarita Valley has reached 21,189 total cases.
Friday COVID-19 Roundup: Cases Near 1 Million Countywide; 258 New Deaths in County
Jim and Anita Lombardi of Federal Escrow, Inc. donated $50,000 to the Boys and Girls Club to help the organization continue providing COVID-19 relief services in the Santa Clarita Valley.
SCV Boys and Girls Club Receives $50,000 Financial Gift from Federal Escrow, Inc.
The Castaic Union School District governing board appointed a new president during its annual organizational board meeting last month.
CUSD Board Appoints Mayreen Burk as New Board President
The California Supreme Court declared Thursday that worker classification standards set forth in its Dynamex decision should apply retroactively to a labor class action from 15 years ago, as well as all non-final cases that predate the 2018 landmark ruling.
California High Court Makes Landmark Independent Contractor Ruling Retroactive
Los Angeles County officials announced five additional mass-vaccination sites set to open next week which include Six Flags Magic Mountain and California State University, Northridge.
Six Flags, CSUN Set to Open as Mass Vaccination Sites
Waste Management has extended its temporary residential green waste pick-up schedule for customers in Santa Clarita, with regular service anticipated to resume the week of Jan. 25.
Waste Management Extends Modified Green Waste Pick-Up Schedule
The College of the Canyons ‘Canyons Promise’ free tuition program for new students is now accepting applications for the 2021-22 year.
COC’s Canyons Promise Program Now Accepting 2021-22 Applications
The ice rink in Valencia, which the City acquired last year, is currently undergoing renovations prior to its highly anticipated grand reopening later this year.
Renovations for Highly Anticipated City-Owned Ice Rink Continue
The MAIN is set to host eight weeks of free virtual productions from around the world from Jan. 22 through March 12 via Zoom for the Stage on Screen Theatre Fest's International Edition of online theatre.
Jan. 22-March 12: The Main’s Stage On Screen Theatre Fest Goes International
1875 - Henry Mayo Newhall buys western half of the Santa Clarita Valley for $2 an acre [story]
Henry M. Newhall
The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health confirmed Thursday 287 new deaths and 17,323 new cases of COVID-19, with 20,918 total cases in the Santa Clarita Valley.
Thursday COVID-19 Roundup: County Surpasses 13,000 Deaths; SCV Cases Total 20,918
Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital announced Thursday the opening of its COVID-19 vaccine-distribution site, with the goal of vaccinating nearly 500 people a day.
Henry Mayo Announces Opening of COVID-19 Vaccine-Distribution Site
L.A. County Parks can help you achieve your New Year’s goals while bringing L.A. vibes into virtual classes.
Registration Open for L.A. County Parks’ Online Classes
%d bloggers like this: