USC Men's Basketball

Class complete: USC lands coveted Canadian wing to end recruiting cycle in style

AJ Lawson
AJ Lawson

South Carolina's 2018 basketball recruiting class is complete.

A.J. Lawson, a coveted wing from Canada, committed to the Gamecocks on Tuesday, giving Frank Martin's program a valuable finishing piece to a five-man group — seven if you include transfers — that started with Jermaine Couisnard's pledge in January. All scholarships have been filled.

The 6-foot-7 Lawson was ranked by 247Sports as the 40th-best prospect in the 2019 class before he reclassified in late spring. The four-star took his first official visit to USC on June 1 and later made trips to Creighton and Tulane. He also considered SMU and Oregon.

"From the first time I was on campus it felt like home," Lawson said in his announcement video. "My family was happy and it felt like a great opportunity there. Frank Martin, he's a great guy. He told he could help me out with the principles on defense and can expand my game on the court. I felt like it was the best decision for me and where my family was comfortable and it's just where I want to be."

USC confirmed Lawson's pledge 12 minutes after his announcement. He's already signed his letter of intent.

With both Frank Martin and Carolina assistant Chuck Martin in attendance, Lawson averaged 14.8 points and 5.4 rebounds for Canada in the FIBA under-18 Americas championships. ESPN's Fran Fraschilla told The State that Lawson showed as Canada's second-best player, sitting behind only Florida-bound point guard Andrew Nembhard.

“Super athletic, high motor," Fraschilla said. "Needs to improve his shot a little bit, but a big-time recruit. Kind of fits Frank’s personality because he brings energy along with athleticism. He’s a very talented player.

“I don’t know where he’s ranked — I’m not a ranking guy, they miss so much — but he’s definitely good enough to play at South Carolina. He has the kind of energy and athleticism that would be a good fit for a program that demands intensity of their players."

Anthony Lawson, A.J.'s father, grew up in Summerton and played football at Scott's Branch. While in the Air Force, he was stationed at Shaw and lived in Columbia. He still has plenty of family around the state.

Lawson gives USC its first Canadian since guard Duane Notice, who graduated in 2017 after earning an SEC Sixth Man of the Year honor and helping Carolina to its first Final Four.

"I think at South Carolina, me and my teammates can go far into the (NCAA) tournament, show our fans love and put on for our city," Lawson said.

South Carolina's 2018 recruiting class

G Jermaine Cousinard (East Chicago, Indiana)

G T.J. Moss (Memphis, Tennessee)

G Tre Campbell (graduate transfer from Georgetown)

G Jair Bolden (traditional transfer from George Washington)

G/F A.J. Lawson (Canada)

F Keyshawn Bryant (Winter Haven, Florida)

F Alanzo Frink (Roselle, New Jersey)

South Carolina Gamecocks men's basketball coach Frank Martin says recruiting in the spring, when South Carolina got TJ Moss, Jermaine Couisnard, is different than the rest of the cycle, and can have more pitfalls.

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