Friday, October 5, 2018
Not all great passers in basketball are small guards who take the ball down the court and run the team.
Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, Danny Manning and Lamar Odom, Bill Walton and Arvydas Sabonis, Joakim Noah and Nikola Dokic all come to mind as tall players blessed with great vision and passing touches.
This season’s Kansas basketball team also is armed with a great passer who has the advantage of seeing over defenders to set up teammates for easy buckets.
Dedric Lawson will play power forward for Kansas because he doesn’t slide his feet well enough to guard small forwards, but offensively he brings an impressive array of perimeter weapons for a big man.
“He handles it every bit as a good as a 3 man and he passes it like a point guard,” Kansas coach Bill Self said from a seat on the couch in Kurtis Townsend’s office. “He’s the best passer we’ve ever had here.”
“Ever,” Self reiterated.
Self turned to Townsend and asked, “Have we ever had anyone here who can pass like him? Julian (Wright?)”
Townsend: “Julian was good in the middle of the zone, but didn’t feed the post and throw it in the way Dedric does. Aaron Miles maybe, but I’d put Dedric ahead of him.”
Mix in Lawson’s ability to score and rebound (19.2, 9.9 as a sophomore) and a promising picture emerges for the 6-foot-9, 235-pound transfer from his hometown university, Memphis.
Lawson had 19 double-doubles for Memphis in 2016-17, a figure that led the American Athletic Conference and ranked 11th nationally. He also led the Tigers with 2.1 blocked shots per game.
As a 3-point shooter, Lawson was more willing than able in two seasons at Memphis. He made 58 of 191 (.304), but he had a full year off to work on his range so it’s reasonable to expect him to make somewhere in the neighborhood of 35 percent in his first season with Kansas. He'll be the only one of the deep stable of post players on the roster shooting 3-pointers. Still, most of his scoring will be done driving to the hoop, pulling up for mid-range jumpers, posting up and hitting free throws.
It could all add up to prestigious postseason honors for him.
Kansas has had at least one Associated Press All-American — 15 players, broken into three teams of five, are chosen each year — in nine of the past 10 seasons.
Nobody jumps off the roster as an obvious candidate to earn All-American honors, but thanks in large part to his versatility and the likelihood the offense will be run through him, Lawson probably has the best chance of anyone on the team.