This is actually a huge deal for Kansas, even though the duo will not be able to play until after next season. Dedric Lawson was one of the nation’s top transfers available after averaging 19.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists as a sophomore this past season, and will have two more years of eligibility with the Jayhawks.
K.J. was injured last year, but averaged 12 points and 8 rebounds when he was on the floor.
Both can be impact players right away, and take the pressure away from Bill Self to attract a big 5-star recruit.
What makes this transfer even more interesting for the Jayhawks is that the Lawson bros actually have two other brothers, Chandler, a 4-star power forward (2019) and Johnathan, a 5-star small forward (2021). AND they have a cousin. DJ Jefferies is a 5-star small forward and he’s the 8th best rated player for the class of 2019.
Things could get pretty interesting for Kansas. Remember the last brothers to go to Kansas? The Morris bros turned out to be pretty damn good. Self could be off the hook from acquiring a top tier recruit for the next three years, and if he does, another championship banner could be hanging up in Lawrence soon.
Ah, it’s that time of year again. Selection Sunday, printing out a fresh, blank 64-team bracket, and cramming all the research you can before picks lock. It’s March Madness.
In terms of next-level talent, this year is special. We will be seeing tons of top talent that will soon be studs in the NBA. I’ll be using the mock draft from Draft Express, take a look at it here. Here’s who to watch for:
(It’s a shame that I can’t be writing about Markelle Fultz, who is the consensus first overall pick. To make a long story short, Washington has miserably failed to create a winning scheme and get players who deserve to play in the Pac-12.) Buuuut let’s move on.
1. Lonzo Ball, UCLA
UCLA has a chance to grab themselves a #1 seed (depending on if they can win/get in the Pac-12 championship game), which all but guarantees the Bruins a few games on national TV. Ball will be the feature point guard in March, and will be a top-3 pick in this year’s draft.
He’s good. Elite shot, crisp passer, IQ off the charts, but please don’t listen to his father telling media he doesn’t need a brand or that he’ll be as good as Jordan. He’s not THAT good. Hopefully injured forward TJ Leaf will be 100% so the Bruins will be healthy. Full description and strengths and weakness’ video is here.
2. Josh Jackson, Kansas
Bill Self may have him playing a forward roll in his peculiar four-guard system, but this kid is electric. See my older blog post to read what I think of the latest talented Kansas freshmen.
Jackson may not even be the best player on his team, but the Jayhawks seem to spread the ball around and let the hot player shine. His ability to pass and rebound allows him to put up gaudy numbers, and his overall game will translate well to the NBA.
The Blue Devils are an interesting team this year, and with all of their talent blah blah blah, they should be better (read my last post), but there is mixed speculation about the highly anticipated freshman. Some mock drafts have him going as high as 3, and some drop him out of the top 8, sometimes 10.
He may have shut some of the critics up after great preferences in Duke’s final two regular season games versus ranked Florida State and North Carolina (check out his stats here).
NBA Draft Net compares Tatum to Danny Granger and…pause for excitement, Shane Battier. I know, they were both good role players and that’s what a lot of the NBA is today, but there isn’t a ton of upside with Tatum. He doesn’t excel in one part of his game. Check his strength and weakness videos courtesy of DraftExpress.
4. Johnathan Isaac, Florida State
Johnathan Isaac is projected to be the 6th pick in this year’s draft, but not many people know about him. In terms of potential, Isaac has the upper hand on Jayson Tatum, who play similar positions.
The comparison Isaac is linked to is Kevin Garnett, yes, The Big Ticket. Although the comparison game is one I very rarely play, I cans see it, and the entire nation will be able to see if Florida State can make a decent run in the tournament (spoiler alert: I think they will.)
Isaac is 6’10”, and has the elite athleticism and motor to be useful as soon as he gets to the NBA. He can hit a jump shot and will project to be able to hit an NBA three. His weakness is that he sometimes gets lost on the floor and can get lost in the flow of a game. BUT THE POTENTIAL!!! Check out his game for yourself
The 2016-21017 college basketball season has loads of talent. Even more than past years. Last year, it was Buddy Hield running away with the award towards the end of the season, then a two horse race in 2015 with Frank Kaminski and Jahlil Okafor.
This year? There are 5 or 6 players who could easily have a hot February and March and steal the title.
Here’s my front-runner list and why you should be watching them as March Madness creeps up on the calendar.
1. Frank Mason III – PG, Kansas
Remember how vital Perry Ellis was to last years’ Kansas team? And the year before that… And the year before that… (Yes he finally graduated) He was the rock to those teams. When Andrew Wiggins struggled in big games in 2014, or if the Jayhawks needed a bucket during a tough stretch, Perry was there. Mason has taken this role and has elevated this Kansas team to new heights, scoring more points per game than any other Kansas player under coach Bill Self.
Mason has made the game easier for his teammates, especially down the stretch of games. In a game vs. Texas Tech this year, Mason drew attention to the ball in the second half, giving super talented freshman and future top-5 pick Josh Jackson easier looks.
Take a look at his highlights and expect to watch him lead Kansas deep into the bracket.
2. Josh Hart – Villanova, G
Hart was Villanova’s most consistent player last year during their championship run and was overshadowed by the play of point guard Ryan Arcidiacono and “the shot” by Kris Jenkins.
In the most Villanova way to describe a player, he’s a prototypical two-way playmaker who finds his way to the basket and like Mason, is consistent and will push his team to a win. Villanova hasn’t seen much competition this year, so we’ll get to see exactly how good Hart is when tournament time comes around, and that’s why I give the edge to Mason, who plays in a deep Big 12.
3. Caleb Swanigan – Purdue, F
In his sophomore campaign, Swanigan may be the most improved player on this list. After watching former teammate AJ Hammonds make it to the NBA, Swanigan got in shape and improved his game, boasting 22 double doubles.
Swanigan may be the most dominant player in college basketball this year, being elite in rebounding and scoring with his back to the basket (Duke Jahlil Okafor anyone?), but…he plays for Purdue. Let’s see what he can do on the big stage.
4. Lonzo Ball – UCLA, PG
Lonzo has lived up to the hype. Despite seeing his little brother LaMelo cherrypick his way to 92 points and his outrageous dad claiming he is the second coming of MJ, Ball has BALLED in his one-and-done year. His 6’6″ lanky frame allows him to see the court like CP3 and shoot over defenders like KD (One of the few comparisons I will make).
Ball has the chance to be special and will be a top-3 pick this upcoming draft. His confidence and IQ puts him ahead of other talented guards and will translate well into late March. Don’t be surprised if his stock skyrockets after a few dominant games in the Pac-12 tourney.
(Recommendation: Don’t pay attention to his horrendous shooting form)
5. Nigel Williams-Goss – Gonzaga, G
The classic best player on the best team. Gonzaga being the best team may be a stretch, but they’re undefeated and have a bunch of talent, so hey, Williams-Goss deserves hit. Not the flashiest player on the court, but he really does everything.
Transferring from Washington to get away from the Markelle Fultz hype, he leads his team in points, assists, and rebounds for the undefeated Zags. Shooting a smooth 50.5% from the field, he has a chance to climb up the rankings.
Truthfully, this happens every year. Gonzaga has some great player that everyone falls in love with, then loses when a team other than BYU can lock up defensively. Speaking of BYU, if Williams-Goss is calling out Michael Wilbon in a postgame interview after a win vs. BYU to “shut up the haters”, you deserve to lose in the first week in March.
Markelle Fultz – Washington, PG, Johnathan Motley – Baylor, F, Sindarius Thornwell – South Carolina, G, Malik Monk – Kentuck