K.J. Lawson: Junior Primer

Memphis has enjoyed an abundance of top athletes to proceed on toward major achievements in the sport, and the Lawson family may produce several more.

You've read the story before about an older brother riding the coattails of his younger, more talented brother. Numerous players in the past have parlayed a junior sibling's talent into scholarship offers and, off the court, high-ranking jobs.

Well, that situation does not accurately depict the scenario in the Lawson family. For one thing, there are three brothers in the family who appear to possess genuine high-major talent. There's Dedric, the blue-chip sophomore, Chandler, a junior high prospect (to the extent that's possible) and the subject of this feature: K.J. Lawson.

Hardly a grizzled old man himself, K.J. is a top-30 junior and early Memphis commitment. He teamed with Dedric last summer for Team Penny and proved to be one half of a highly talented duo on the EYBL circuit.

K.J. is a tall, slender and long wing forward. He's no Penny in terms of ballhandling, but he's a decent dribbler and talented passer on the perimeter. He hits three-pointers yet can score on high post-ups as well, wielding a turnaround jump shot that's very difficult for defenders to alter. He has a long, smooth release with an extended follow through that should serve him well at the college level.

While not as athletic as Dedric, K.J. certainly doesn't suffer from a lack of natural physical gifts and will more than hold his own due to his skill level. Defensively, he uses his long arms to block shots and proved last year against 17-under competition that he's a fine rebounder as well.

He'll need to get stronger and learn to move more crisply without the ball in order to stand out for the Tigers, but no one ever will accuse him of being an accessory in a package deal.

Perhaps the other concern will be whether he's quick enough laterally to defend shorter, explosive wings, but his versatility as a rebounder and shotblocker should enable him to guard most power forwards effectively in case of a troublesome matchup on the wing.

I also like the fact that he seems to be developing at an accelerated pace. He doesn't always post huge numbers for Memphis (Tenn.) Hamilton but began his high school career as a three star prospect and now is challenging to become a five star. Whatever happens with Dedric, K.J. projects as a key building block for Josh Pastner as he architects upcoming classes.


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