USC Men's Basketball

What South Carolina’s AJ Lawson said about pending NBA Draft decision

South Carolina’s AJ Lawson talks NBA Draft, fashion

South Carolina freshman guard AJ Lawson spoke about his future during the Gamecock Gala event April 15, 2019.
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South Carolina freshman guard AJ Lawson spoke about his future during the Gamecock Gala event April 15, 2019.

The deadline for underclassmen declaring for the NBA Draft is April 21. Speaking six days before it, South Carolina’s A.J. Lawson said he’s still thinking it over.

“I still haven’t made my decision yet,” Lawson said Monday during USC’s “Gamecock Gala” event for student-athletes at the Koger Center. “It’s going to be between my family, coaching staff, whatever is right.”

Lawson is coming off an All-SEC freshman season with the Gamecocks in which he averaged 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists a game. The 6-foot-6 guard isn’t popping up on any popular mock drafts for this June’s event, but is so for the 2020 draft.

Rules are now in place for players to test the NBA Draft waters and still return to school. Starting this year, players are allowed to retain agents and still return to school, if they then terminate any agreement with said agent. The deadline to withdraw from the draft is May 29.

Former Gamecock Chris Silva went through the process last spring — and worked out with a handful of NBA teams — before coming back to USC for his senior season.

Lawson, who won’t turn 19 until July, reclassified to 2018 last spring and committed to the Gamecocks in June.

“I had my ups and downs my first year,” Lawson said. “I should be in high school right now. Coming out earlier, it’s been a great journey for me. Gamecock family has treated me like family and I’ve loved it.”

Lawson is thought to be a centerpiece to next season’s USC team, joined by fellow rising sophomores Keyshawn Bryant and Justin Minaya. He’s already participating in offseason workouts.

“We’re excited,” Lawson said. “We’re gonna be a great team, I know that.”

Lawson said he’d gain valuable experience by testing the pro waters.

“Just experience,” he said, “and seeing what I can do.”

Andrew Ramspacher has been covering college athletics since 2010, serving as The State’s USC men’s basketball beat writer since October 2017. His work has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors, Virginia Press Association and West Virginia Press Association. At a program-listed 5-foot-10, he’s always been destined to write about the game. Not play it.
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