The rich got richer this week in Lawrence. The Jayhawks nabbed former Memphis forwards (and brothers) Dedric and K.J. Lawson, as announced via a K.J. tweet on this past Monday, April 10. The two stars will have to sit out next season, as per NCAA transfer rules. Memphis Head Coach Tubby Smith will also demote Keelon Lawson, the brothers’ father, from his position as assistant coach to the team’s director of player development.
Dedric, a sophomore, led Memphis in scoring, rebounding, and blocks with 19.2, 9.9, and 2.1, respectively. K.J., the older brother despite being a redshirt freshman (yes, that’s a brain teaser but it is true), averaged 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds this season after playing in just 10 games in 2015-16. Dedric was named to the All-AAC first team and KJ was the conference’s rookie of the year.
Memphis finished last season with a 19-15 record, but their roster needs serious rebuilding after being decimated the just the last several weeks with six transfers. Also departing the Tigers with the Lawson brothers are starting shooting guard Markel Crawford (12.8ppg), and contributing reserves Chad Rykhoek, Keon Clergeot, and Craig Randall II. Memphis has five incoming class of 2017 recruits, including four 3-stars, to help fill the gaps. While Memphis’s AD, Tom Bowen, put on a good face by expressing optimism about the future, the transfers are truly a blow to Coach Tubby Smith, a national title winner at the University of Kentucky.
Kansas, on the other hand, is coming off yet another long tournament run, this time to the Elite Eight behind their Wooden Award winner Frank Mason III. KU will be losing Mason, Landen Lucas, and likely Josh Jackson, but will have a talent-stocked roster coming back nonetheless. The roster will include key returning seniors Graham and Mykhailiuk, as well as role players ready to step up and the 2017 recruiting class headlined by McDonald’s All American Billy Preston. Although the Lawson brothers are ineligible to play in this upcoming season, Bill Self has the ingredients for success next year and beyond.