Monday, April 10, 2017

KU success of two other Memphis natives helped lead Lawson brothers to Kansas

Memphis’ Dedric Lawson in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

Memphis’ Dedric Lawson in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in Hartford, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)


While Sunday’s news that Devonte’ Graham was returning for his senior season brought with it excitement for the immediate future of Kansas basketball, Monday’s news carried visions of even more excitement down the road.

Through information obtained from their father, Keelon, Gary Parrish, of CBS Sports, reported late Monday morning that brothers Dedric and K.J. Lawson of Memphis had decided to transfer to Kansas. K.J. Later confirmed the news via Twitter by Tweeting simply, “ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK.”

The two Memphis natives will sit out the 2017-18 season per NCAA transfer rules and be eligible to play during the 2018-19 season.

Talking on Parrish’s radio show Monday afternoon, Keelon Lawson said two other Memphis natives who have KU ties played a role in leading the Lawson brothers to Kansas.

“Dedric talks to Tarik (Black) a lot,” Keelon said of the former KU forward. “He talked to Tarik last summer and Tarik used to tell Dedric, ‘Man, you’re way better than I am, way more talented.’ Tarik told him, ‘If I had to do it all over again, I would’ve went straight there (to Kansas).’ Dedric also talked to (current Jayhawk) Lagerald Vick and he told him, ‘Hey man, it’s special out here.’”


South Carolina forward Mindaugas Kacinas (25) fouls Memphis forward K.J. Lawson, left, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Saturday, Jan. 2, 2016, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Sean Rayford)

Keelon Lawson also said seeing the way the KU coaching staff handled the transfer of Malik Newman benefited the Jayhawks.

Last season, the Lawson brothers combined to average more than 30 points, 18 rebounds and 6 assists per game for Tubby Smith's Tigers, who finished the season 19-13.

Dedric Lawson, a 6-foot-9, 236-pound sophomore and former McDonald's All-American who, according to his father, liked Kansas before committing to Memphis, averaged a double-double — 19.2 points and 9.9 rebounds per game — while his brother, K.J Lawson, a 6-7, 210-pound, red-shirt freshman, averaged 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.

Both players committed to former Memphis coach Josh Pastner, who has since moved on to Georgia Tech.

Said Pastner in an interview with the Memphis Commercial Appeal shortly after the duo signed in 2014: “I think both K.J. and Dedric are very talented young men. Both have been around winning. They’re high-IQ players. They’re long. They’ve got a very good skill set and good motors.”

Pastner also called the brothers “good character people.”

Their father held a full-time coaching position on Pastner's staff but was demoted after Smith arrived in town.

Keelon said on Parrish’s radio show Monday that if he had kept his job as a full-time assistant on Smith’s staff, his sons would not be going anywhere.

According to Keelon, KU coach Bill Self was in Memphis on Sunday. Because the brothers had not yet signed with Kansas as of Monday, Self could not comment on either player.

Those familiar with their games could.

Recruiting analyst Eric Bossi, of, called both players “impact guys.”

“Getting these guys with college experience in your program is a pretty big deal,” Bossi told Shay Wildeboor of “With Dedric, you are talking about a first-round NBA draft pick. He is a guy who, assuming he’s as good as he has been, is someone who can compete for the Big 12 player of the year (and) K.J. is a potential all-league type player.”

According to Rivals, both players were 4-star prospects in the prep class of 2015, with Dedric, who was ranked No. 33 nationally, reclassifying up to join his brother K.J., who was ranked No. 54 nationally.

Bossi also said Dedric compared favorably to former KU lottery pick and 2011 Big 12 player of the year Marcus Morris.

According to Parrish's report, the latest recruiting haul by Kansas, which also featured an assist from Kansas assistant Kurtis Townsend, might pay dividends beyond the next two seasons, as Dedric and K.J. have two younger brothers — Chandler and Johnathan — who are top prospects in the 2019 and 2021 classes.

Beyond that, their cousin, D.J. Jeffries, also is a Top 10 player in the 2019 class.

Though ineligible next season, the Lawson brothers will be able to practice with the team all year, providing some tough competition for KU's rotation players on a daily basis throughout the year.

Dedric Lawson will have two years of eligibility remaining after sitting out the upcoming season and K.J. Lawson, if he applies for and is granted a sixth year of eligibility because of injury issues earlier in his career, would have three years of eligibility remaining.


Suzi Marshall 5 years, 1 month ago

Some of the comment from the columns written by the National Sporrts press are less than flattering. One guy said the report from his NBA workout last year was the worst ever. Nevertheless, Kansas under Bill Self will get the most out of them.

Shannon Gustafson 5 years, 1 month ago

We've had plenty of high-impact players at KU that didn't have skills that didn't transfer to the NBA (Perry being a prime recent example) so that really doesn't change my opinion of their skills/possible impact at KU. It's hard to argue with their stats. Rebounds don't just fall in your lap 8-9 times a game and they weren't just picking up 30 points a game purely from luck.

Matt Stone 5 years, 1 month ago

I am stoked to see them play. I saw this article on my Birthday 2013 about the family and thought it would be cool if they transferred to KU! Last night I was going through transfers and hilighted them. Freaked out this morning when I saw they did! Plenty of rebounds blocks and points from these 2.

Yonatan Negash 5 years, 1 month ago

Think this is a great pick up for KU and even better opportunity for the Lawson's

Under Self's guidance, they'll have a great opportunity to develop their skill sets even more.

Really think it's a great fit for both.

Kit Duncan 5 years, 1 month ago

Add in a season of working out under Andrea Hudy's supervision before debuting in Allen Fieldhouse, and these two should really rock the Phog!

Robert Brock 5 years, 1 month ago

These guys need to work much harder than they have ever worked. Andrea Hudy needs to go off on them like a drill sergeant.

Michael Sillman 5 years, 1 month ago

Will their scholarships count against our max while they are ineligible?

Shannon Gustafson 5 years, 1 month ago

They do, a scholarship is a scholarship regardless of their eligibility for the upcoming season.

Harlan Hobbs 5 years, 1 month ago

Yes, Michael. That's why we really need to use our remaining scholarship(s) wisely. A big man for next year is crucial.

Ditto, Ryan regarding Tarik Black. I hope to see him back in Lawrence in some capacity, but I think his interests in helping youth in his home area will take precedent.

Ryan Zimmerman 5 years, 1 month ago

Black always seemed like he was working hard. Giving effort, playing tough. He wasn't an offensive machine but man you wanted a guy like him out there on the floor

Andy Hess 5 years, 1 month ago

The best part is that they have two younger brothers, Chandler and Johnathan, who might just be better than they are and will be ready for college ball in the next few years.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.