South Carolina Basketball: Conflicting Reports Surrounding AJ Lawson’s Future

There is drama surrounding South Carolina basketball player AJ Lawson’s future in Columbia.

Late Monday night, basketball insider Jon Rothstein reported that rising junior AJ Lawson had made a decision to remove his name from NBA draft consideration and return to the University of South Carolina.

There have, however, been some recent reports that contradict Rothstein’s announcement, saying that the guard’s status has yet to change.  Lawson has until August 3rd or 10 days after the NBA draft to make a final decision.

In fact, a Post and Courier report mentioned that the newspaper had reached out to head coach Frank Martin regarding Rothstein’s report, and that coach Martin had confirmed Lawson’s status still remains the same.  He states that he has “no idea where that came from,” and that he knows it didn’t come “from A.J., his family or me.”

Another report from Adam Zagoria mentioned that Lawson’s father says that AJ is “still in the draft.”

As of now, many believe that the Toronto native will ultimately decide to return to Columbia, especially with the Coronavirus shutting down in person NBA workouts for draft eligible players.  Things could change, though, as the NBA plans to begin competition later in 2020.  If players are able to participate in a combine and meet individually with front offices, Lawson could certainly have a chance to find a nice fit, meaning there’s no real drawback to leaving his name in the pool.

Martin did mention Lawson’s intent to join his teammates in late June when the Gamecock basketball team returns to campus.

Should Lawson return, he would immediately make the Gamecocks an at-large candidate for the NCAA Tournament and a legitimate contender in the SEC race.  He was the team’s leading scorer a year ago, averaging 13.4 points per game, and shooting over 41% from the field.  It would also mean the squad returns eight of their top ten players, in respect to minutes per game, from last season’s 18-13 finish.

This is the first real drama to occur in Lawson’s draft process, which has been rather quiet since he declared back in April.  This is his second go-round, as he declared without hiring an agent following his freshman campaign, too.  We should get clarification on Lawson’s plan in the coming months, but for now, the saga continues.