AJ Lawson has to decide where he wants to play basketball next season. Will he return to South Carolina for his junior year or pursue a career in the NBA?
Sophomore AJ Lawson has an important decision to make this offseason that will have a significant impact on the 2020-21 South Carolina basketball season. The guard is considering a jump to the professional ranks after leading the Gamecocks in scoring this past year.
Lawson averaged 13.4 PPG, pacing the team, while adding 3.7 RPG and 1.9 APG last season. He also shot over 41% from the field and just under 34% from beyond the arc.
The 19-year-old went through the NBA draft process as a freshman before opting to return to school. This year, it may be a little more difficult to get professional feedback with NBA operations effectively shut down amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Frank Martin met with the media this week to discuss where Lawson stands regarding a decision.
“He and I texted… We’re supposed to get on a conference call with mom, dad and him,” Martin said. “I know AJ and the family are at peace with him being in college. It’s not like he’s running away from college. It’s not like he can’t wait to get away from here. It’s not like ‘I have to be in the NBA’. None of that is part of the equation for him.”
Lawson’s decision will impact the makeup of next year’s roster. The Gamecocks signed two players in its latest recruiting class, filling the scholarships that opened up after Maik Kotsar and Micaiah Henry’s graduations. They’ll also need to find room for transfer Seventh Woods, who will be eligible next year following a redshirt season.
If Lawson declares for the NBA, Woods will slide in to take the open scholarship. If he returns, there may need to be attrition from the current roster to make some extra room, although Coach Martin says there is a “plan in place” should there be no departures.
When asked if he’s aware of any transfer decisions, Frank Martin said that he’s not had a chance to meet with players individually, but has “no idea of any transfer situations.”
Following a stellar freshman season, Lawson started to see his name pop up on some NBA mock drafts, but after up-and-down play as a sophomore, he’s fallen out of most NBA draft projections. He’ll have until late April to make his final decision.