Thursday, June 7, 2018

Dedric Lawson says brother, K.J., has ‘improved a lot’

Kansas wing K.J. Lawson looks to make a post move in an exhibition game between KU and Italy All Star A2, in Seregno, near Milan, Italy, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017.

Kansas wing K.J. Lawson looks to make a post move in an exhibition game between KU and Italy All Star A2, in Seregno, near Milan, Italy, Sunday, Aug. 6, 2017.


Whether you’re talking about their time together in college at Memphis, during most of their prep playing days at Hamilton High back in their hometown or in their first 14 months as Jayhawks, KU transfer K.J. Lawson has always sort of seemed to linger in the shadows of his younger brother, Dedric.

Part of that is personality. Dedric, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound, red-shirt junior, is more outgoing and carries himself with a little more of a happy-go-lucky attitude, while K.J. (6-8, 205), to those on the outside looking in, seems to be the much more serious of the two brothers who came to Kansas in April of 2017 and sat out the 2017-18 season in accordance with NCAA transfer rules.

But just because it was Dedric who drew most of the attention and praise during the Lawson’s red-shirt season does not mean that K.J. is merely here as an afterthought.

Take it from Dedric, who recently talked about his brother’s role in helping both of them adjust to life in Lawrence while developing their skills in the process.

“K.J.’s improved a lot,” said Dedric, who is roughly 17 months younger than his brother. “K.J. has got so much smarter, as far as the game, and K.J. has helped me with my game a lot. He teaches me things that he sees at practice and I look and try to do the same for him.”

Asked to elaborate on the specific ways he believed K.J. had improved, Dedric pointed to both the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.

“It’s just improvement all around,” Dedric said. “His 3 ball got better. He’s more focused on the defensive end than the offensive end. He likes those little things that will help us win and KJ’s going to be a big part of our success.”

That certainly has been the case throughout K.J.’s basketball playing life.

During his high school career, back at Hamilton High in Memphis, K.J., scored 2,227 points in four seasons, capping his prep days with three-year averages of 18.5 point and nearly eight rebounds per game.

At Memphis, where he red-shirted in 2015-16 after making two starts in 10 games before getting injured and then started 31 of 32 games the following season (2016-17), K.J. averaged 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.

Heck, even in the limited time he actually got to play with the Jayhawks — during last summer’s four-game exhibition trip to Italy — K.J. led the Jayhawks in rebounding with six per game.

Nobody is expecting those kinds of numbers to pop up during his days as a Jayhawk. At least not right away.

For one, as Dedric put it, “We’ve got superior athletes here,” so the need for one or two players to put up big numbers may not be quite as great as it was for the Lawsons at Memphis.

So while it may be K.J.’s younger brother who is getting most of the attention today — showing up on future NBA draft boards, receiving praise as a potential Big 12 player of the year, etc. — KU coach Bill Self has always talked highly of the other Lawson brother, and it seems crystal clear that there is a path that exists that leads to the less heralded Memphis transfer finding a spot in the KU rotation.

The focus for the Lawson brothers, along with the rest of the KU newcomers, from this point on is simple. And KU assistant coach Norm Roberts outlined it perfectly earlier this week.

“You just want the guys to get as many reps as possible so they kind of learn what they need to do,” Roberts said. “You want them to be quick but not in a hurry. But they all want to impress and do well.”

Asked to explain what Roberts meant with that directive, Dedric said it meant different things to different players.

“Playing the game at your speed, know what you want to do but don’t rush it,” he said. “Things like that.”


Kurt Eskilson 4 years ago

I'm confused. Paragraph 2 says: "Dedric, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound, red-shirt sophomore …" Paragraph 5 says: "… said Dedric, a red-shirt junior …" Which is it?

Matt Tait 4 years ago

Dedric is a red-shirt junior and K.J. is a red-shirt sophomore.

I know it's weird because K.J. is actually older, but you have to remember he basically got two freshman years at Memphis and Dedric reclassified to leave high school a year early.

I'll eventually commit it to memory. Still getting used to it myself, though.

Either way, it's fixed now. Thanks for the heads up.

Eric Bernauer 4 years ago

I found this article interesting. I had no idea K.J. had been so highly regarded out of high school.

Allan Olson 4 years ago

You are spot on, Kurt. How can the younger brother, by 17 months, be a redshirt junior? Unless I'm wrong, doesn't 17 months equate to at least one school year, maybe two? And, since K.J. was a redshirt at Memphis, then played a season, and transferred to KU, then why is he's still considered a sophomore? Is this the new, new math? Straighten this out Mr. Tait!!!

Matt Tait 4 years ago

Here ya go, Allan.

  1. True freshman season: K.J. was injured 10 games in and got the year back via red-shirt.

  2. Red-shirt freshman season: His first full season at Memphis. He started 31 of 32 games and played as a red-shirt freshman.

  3. Transfer to KU. Sit out via red-shirt because of NCAA transfer rules (which means you don't lose the year of eligibility). The reason he was able to get both red-shirt seasons is because the first one was deemed a medical red-shirt.

  4. Enter the 2018-19 season as a red-shirt sophomore with three years of eligibility remaining.

Hope that helps clear it up. It's not exactly the most common path.

Allan Olson 4 years ago

Thanks so much for double redshirt clarity. I'm so looking forward to this year's talent and depth. Just can't wait for season to begin. Lets all hope it will be a season without any negative attention getting dramas. I watched all those games in Italy and was struck by K.J.'s relentless pursuit of rebounds. He really stood out in limited minutes. Both he and Garret can be a strong pair of defensive "closers".

Marius Rowlanski 4 years ago

New Math? You're dating your self with that 60's reference.

Shannon Gustafson 4 years ago

I'm even more confused because K.J. is the older of the two according to the CBS Sports article but this story indicates he's younger by over a year?

Matt Tait 4 years ago

Older in age, younger in school. Red-shirts will do that for you.

K.J. turned 22 in May and Dedric will turn 21 in October.

Russ Freeman 4 years ago

Matt, I believe another correction is needed - in P1, Dedrick is listed as the older brother.

Rory Wendelin 4 years ago

I think he'll have a good year. He's had a lot of time to develop his game. I'll be excited to see him develop his game!

4 years ago

matt-thanks for entertaining questions on the lawsons.. where the f were u when we asked about Team usa practices in co being open to the public? 🤔👌🤦‍♂️

Joshua Hann 4 years ago

KU transfer K.J. Lawson has always sort of seemed to linger in the shadows of his older brother Dedric.

This sentence doesn't help the confusion any, haha.

Matt Tait 4 years ago

Yeah. Evidently I had a rough go keeping it straight. Very sorry for the confusion. It's all clear and correct in there now and I'm guessing this endeavor will help me keep it straight from this point on. Yikes!

Thanks for bearing with me.

Joe Black 4 years ago

What are KU's chances of landing the even younger Lawson brother? Do you think it will depend on what kind of season Memphis has under new head coach Anfernee "Penny" Hardaway?

Harlan Hobbs 4 years ago

My guess is that the younger Lawson will go to Memphis because of Hardaway. In fact, had he been the coach instead of Tubby Smith, I doubt that Dedric and K.J. would have transferred.

In reality, Dedric will likely only play one year at KU. The odds are that K.J. may stay longer, but the initial thought that a "Memphis pipeline" was developing has probably vanished with Memphis' hiring of Hardaway.

Never fear, though. KU will always be loaded as long as Bill Self is the head coach.

Martin Rosenblum 4 years ago

Which brother was it that had to make an apology to Tubby Smith after being caught in public on video being highly disrespectful to him verbally? I recall that Bill Self had to make some comments regarding the incident and may have had a counseling session with him about personal behavior as a Jayhawk. I'm sure that won't be an issue now that whichever one it was is actually going to be playing. With LaGerald gone, they are the Memphis pipeline that is left. Now, there are more former Jayhawk players in Memphis on the Grizzlies roster: Chalmers, Selden and McLemore.

Harlan Hobbs 4 years ago

Sounds like a good "Jayhawk pipeline" to me.

I think that it was K.J. who made the most disparaging remark about Tubby, but I could be wrong. Anyway, with Hardaway now coaching there, my guess is that not to many top recruits will leave home. He's an icon there.

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