South Carolina Basketball: The Latest on AJ Lawson’s NBA Decision

AJ Lawson has a little bit more time to decide whether he’s returning to the South Carolina basketball team or declaring for the NBA draft.

The NBA postponed the deadline for NCAA underclassmen to remove their names from the draft pool, meaning sophomore guard AJ Lawson has a little more time to think his decision over.  The original date of June 3rd has been pushed back to an unknown time later in the summer as the NBA pre-draft process has been interrupted by Coronavirus.

With that being said, Gamecock players are expecting to return to campus at the end of the month, and coach Frank Martin believes Lawson will be in Columbia with his teammates.

“As of right now,” Martin said, “our players are due back on campus June 29 to start the whole testing and being put in a bubble and [Lawson’s] plan is to be here on June 29 unless something changes.”

That’s a good sign for the basketball team, who’s hoping to get their leading scorer from a year ago back for his junior season.  His return would solidify a roster that would be Frank Martin’s most talented since the ’17 Final Four squad.

Others around the basketball world have weighed in on Lawson’s decision, too.  Jeff Goodman of The Stadium revealed his evaluations for early entrants and listed Lawson as “Unlikely to be drafted” aka should return to school.

Most in the industry believe that Lawson will be back on campus when the season rolls around, where he’ll have an opportunity to improve upon his numbers from last year.  The 6’6” guard averaged 13.4 points per game on 41.4% shooting, nearly identical numbers to his freshman campaign.

His return makes South Carolina a legitimate contender for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, and a threat to Kentucky, Florida, and Tennessee in the SEC race.