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‘A hard decision.’ Frank Martin updates AJ Lawson’s NBA Draft status as deadline nears

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‘A hard decision.’ Frank Martin updates AJ Lawson’s NBA Draft status as deadline nears

May 15, 2019

A long way from where the NBA Combine is being held this week, A.J. Lawson is taking another step in his draft process.

South Carolina coach Frank Martin said Wednesday that his All-SEC guard is heading to the West Coast for workouts with NBA teams.

“(Lawson) went home to Toronto,” Martin said after a speaking engagement at Shaw Air Force Base. “I think he was flying today or tomorrow to Los Angeles. He’s going to spend 10 days there and go to his workouts from LA. And then he’s going to make a decision after that.”

Lawson, who made the SEC’s all-freshman team in 2018-19 after averaging 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists, has until May 29 to decide whether he wants to remain in the draft or return to the Gamecocks for a sophomore season.

The 6-foot-6, 172-pounder from Canada didn’t receive one of the 66 invites to this week’s combine in Chicago, but he was asked to come to the new G League Elite Camp. Lawson declined that opportunity, citing a reach for something greater.

“His vision is to be in the NBA,” Martin said, “not to be in the G League.”

The two-round, 60-pick draft is June 20. In his latest “big board,” The Athletic’s Sam Vecenie lists Lawson as this draft’s No. 93 prospect.

Syracuse.com’s Donna Ditota reported last week that only 11 college players have been drafted over the last five years who didn’t secure a combine invitation.

ESPN.com’s Jonathan Givony projects Lawson as a first round pick in the 2020 draft. Lawson is the third Gamecock to test the draft waters with eligibility remaining. Sophomore P.J. Dawson stayed in the draft in 2017. Junior Chris Silva came back to USC in 2018.

Martin said he’s in daily communication with Lawson.

“It’s selfish when I say I hope he’s back because that only serves me and my team and the University of South Carolina,” Martin said. “But he loves being here, too. So it’s one of those deals where … I say this to people all the time, ‘Put yourself in a place where you gotta make tough decisions. Tough decisions are when you got two great options to choose from.’ He’s got two great options to choose from — the NBA, life-long dream and the experience that he’s actually lived at the University of South Carolina, which he loves.

“So he’s got a hard decision, but he’s got to make the right one. And we’re in it with him.”

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I agree - the overall 93rd pick would put him into the early 4th round, and the article says there's only two rounds in the NBA draft. 60 total picks, and then another 32 possible picks before Lawson's spot comes up. Of course, it's just a prediction of where he would be picked, but the good thing is if he chooses to come back for another year at USC, and continues to improve, then he's in much better position to get drafted, so it gives him an opportunity to better his chances.

And if he truly likes being at USC - some kids don't care for the college grind of taking classes, studying and taking challenging exams and tests to get good grades, and they get those dollar signs in their eyes and want to rush everything. They also often have people behind them advising them - family members and guardians who also get those dollar signs in their eyes.

AJ seems to have solid support from his family, and enjoys his time at USC. I will be surprised if he doesn't return for one more season at USC. He's going to have tryouts for some NBA teams, but unless he just blows them away, I don't think they will guarantee to him they'd pick him over many others already solidified into the draft. It'll once again be another option for the G-League, and I don't think AJ wants to deal with that.....P.J. Dozier regularly scores 20+ ppg in the G-League, and he only gets rare opportunities to play for the Celtics in the NBA. Unless you get into the loop off the bat - by getting drafted into it - it is very hard to find a spot to squeeze into from the outside. It's much harder than making the MLB big leagues from the minors, and even that's pretty hard: ask Christian Walker.....

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