Although it doesn't come as much of a surprise, KJ Lawson announced Monday afternoon that he would be playing for Memphis after his high school career is over.
"It was KJ’s decision and I feel comfortable with it as a dad," said KJ's father Keelon Lawson. "I was going to support it no matter which way he decided to go.”
Lawson is a member of the class of 2015, and is rated as a four-star by 247Sports. He is also rated as the second best player in Tennessee for his class and the 5th best small forward in the class of 2015. Despite being so highly rated, Keelon - who plays a dual role of father and high school basketball coach - knows his son has some work to do in order to be ready for Division I competition.
"The number one he needs to improve is his strength and his intensity level of playing on a high Division I level like Memphis," Lawson explained. "That’s one of the main decisions when he came to me and we sat down with my wife. We can now concentrate on his academics and getting him qualified, but also getting him physically ready so that the transition from a high school senior to a freshman in college won’t be so hard.”
The 6-foot-6 forward is the first commitment in the class of 2015 for the Tigers, and plays his high school basketball locally in Memphis at Hamilton High School. Add Lawson to the list of local recruits that Josh Pastner has been able to lock up.
“Memphis was consistent," replied Coach Lawson on what stood out about the Tigers' approach. "From day one, they’ve always told us that he is their number one prospect on their list for the class. That’s one of the first things I’d ask colleges when they’d call. Coach Pastner said, ‘He is our number one prospect for his class. If we get him, I don’t need to recruit anyone like him in 2014 or in his class. I can go out and get the puzzle pieces that fit around him.’”
The Crystal Ball was 100 percent in favor of Memphis, as Lawson chose the Tigers over Alabama, who was the only other school to offer him at this point.
“We had Memphis, Arkansas, Tennessee, Stanford and Texas all there. Those were all of the guys that were calling and keeping tabs, checking on them every day. Memphis was really consistent with them.”
Expect his brother, Dedric, to follow suit to Memphis. They are known to be a package deal.
“KJ wanted to go ahead and get his commitment out of the way so that Dedric can start his process separate from him," Keelon said. "He didn’t want schools thinking that they had to get him in order to get Dedric. KJ is still wanting to do his job and recruit Dedric to come to Memphis too. Sometimes you know how it can be with brothers, though.”