Dear Lawsons: Don’t Copy Ball To Be The Balls, Just Ball. Sincerely, KU BALLS

C9FojYGUIAAUuz1Let me address this first: Yes, the purpose of this post is primarily just to validate the title. Now that that is out of the way…

Earlier this week, Dedric and K.J. Lawson announced that they would be transferring to Kansas, where they would be eligible to play beginning the 2018-2019 season. As they played for a Memphis team in its first year under Tubby Smith that finished 19-13 and 5th in the less-than-mighty AAC Conference, it’s understandable that many casual fans don’t know who they are. I watch a ton of college basketball and I don’t think I ever watched any of Memphis’ games this past year. But I know who the Lawsons are, and their transferring to KU is a big get for Coach Self. Pardon me, Hall of Fame Coach Self…

The Lawson brothers started nearly all of Memphis’ 32 contests (K.J. only missed starting a single one) and combined for over 31 points and 18 rebounds a game, so they will bring valuable experience to the Jayhawks when they begin their campaigns in Lawrence. You could point to Memphis’ overall record and ask if the Lawsons are really all that good, since it seems like two players of that high caliber should be able to have more of a postive impact on their team, and that would be a fair point. My counter would be that the turmoil of a coaching change inevitably results in what a team can realistically aspire to achieve, as well as that their supporting cast was a bit…light.

Talent-wise, both players were ranked in the top 40 out of high school, with Dedric being selected to play in the McDonald’s All-American Game. In addition, they each won the AAC Rookie of the Year Award – Dedric in 2016 and K.J. in 2017. Coach Self’s “big get” doesn’t stop there, though…

As much as we hear about the Ball family, one could argue that the Lawson family may be better. Lonzo Ball is brilliant, but incoming freshman LiAngelo is considered a fringe top 200 recruit, most likely signed by UCLA in an attempt to help secure the youngest, LaMelo, who is currently ranked #14 for the 2019 class.

Dedric and K.J. are older brothers to 2019’s #20 ranked Chandler Lawson and 2021’s #6 recruit Johnathan Lawson, as well as cousins to 2019’s #6 ranked D.J. Jeffries. Obviously a lot can happen in a couple of years and there is no guarantee those three will ultimately attend KU, but at the very least with Dedric and K.J. being Jayhawks, you know Coach Self will be heard & seriously considered. If the remaining Lawsons & D.J. Jeffries maintain their rankings through their development and level of play, Self could be looking at the possibility of having the inside track for three future McDonald’s All-Americans in addition to Dedric. Not too shabby, particularly when you consider they’re all from the same family…

What we don’t need more of however, are any more distractions. This past year saw an unusually high number of bad decisions, potentially criminal behavior, and just plain stupidity by KU players, and we don’t need any more of these kind of issues. I’m perfectly fine with players having a bit of an edge to be able to play with an edge, know that kids 18-22 are going to do dumb things, and am incredibly thankful that I’m not growing up with the multitude of social media platforms and pervasive cameras to document every aspect of my life. And I’m sure it was stressful to have a new coach come in that you didn’t choose to play for, who not only changed the team’s style of play, but also demoted your father. But still, there was no need for K.J. to curse at Tubby Smith on his way out – you won. You’re on your way to a better school, a better basketball program, a better coach, better basketball opportunities in the future – no need to run your mouth like dad LaVar Ball and say anything stupid (like this, or this, or this, or this – hell, just check here for a top 10 ranking).

To be clear, just looking at K.J.’s comments in a vacuum, I am solidly in the “Who cares, it’s not a big deal” camp. What makes this a bit different to me however, is the steady drip of bad publicity surrounding the team that has popped up over the past six months, and now any slightly questionable behavior is going to be magnified on the national stage. I’m glad K.J. apologized for it and hope he learned that – particularly at a high-profile school like Kansas – he should keep his trash talk on the court.

There’s no need to channel Papa Ball – the Lawson clan could be set up to out-ball the Balls on the court and with their lasting impact at KU.

Rock Chalk!

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