USC Men's Basketball

AJ Lawson pours in 31 points at World Cup to lead team to final eight

Whether it’s for Carolina or Canada, A.J. Lawson is a hard man to stop on the basketball court.

Senegal learned that lesson Wednesday, as Lawson led the Canadian U19 national team to a 90-79 win in the round of 16 of the FIBA U19 World Cup in Crete, Greece. Lawson poured in a game-high 31 points to go with seven rebounds and four assists.

With that victory, Lawson and Canada advanced to the quarterfinals, where it will play France on Friday.

Lawson’s performance drew praise from several notable analysts, including ESPN expert Jonathan Givony, who has expressed optimism about Lawson’s pro future before, and CBS Sports’ Jon Rothstein.

The reigning SEC all-freshman team member is considered by many media outlets to be a potential first-round pick in the 2020 NBA draft. He is expected to help lead a young but talented Gamecock squad in 2019-2020 as coach Frank Martin tries to guide the team back to the NCAA tournament.

More immediately, Lawson is trying to help Canada defend its U19 World Cup title from 2017 — if he and the Canadians succeed, they would join the U.S. as the only two-time champions. Through four games, he is averaging 18.3 points per contest, along with five rebounds and three assists. He is shooting 46.9 percent from 3-point territory and leads all players in the tournament with 15 made 3s.

Greg Hadley is the beat writer for South Carolina women’s basketball and baseball for GoGamecocks and The State. He also covers football and recruiting.