Keelon Lawson

Memphis forward Dedric Lawson (1) goes up for a shot between Connecticut forward Shonn Miller (32) and guard Daniel Hamilton, right, during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in the finals of the American Athletic Conference men's tournament in Orlando, Fla., Sunday, March 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)
AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

NCAA rule change that impacts Memphis coaching staff now official

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One of the more popular topics in college basketball in recent weeks was the status of Memphis assistant coach Keelon Lawson and sons Dedric and K.J. in the aftermath of the school hiring Tubby Smith. Would Smith keep the elder Lawson on staff as an assistant, thus in all likelihood ensuring that Dedric and K.J. would return as well? Would he let go or attempt to reassign Keelon, and as a result risk losing two players from an already limited roster?

Ultimately Smith decided to reassign Keelon to a non-coaching position, making him director of player development. And with the NCAA having a rule that those with a connection to a prospective student-athlete had to serve in a coaching capacity for the player’s first two seasons, the question was whether or not Memphis would need a waiver to pull off the move.

Luckily for Memphis the NCAA was looking into an alteration of the rule, and on Thursday with the NCAA not taking action on Proposal 2015-30 the change became official.

Under the new rule a coach’s two years on staff would begin immediately upon his arrival. In the case of Lawson this is key as he spent a year on former Memphis head coach Josh Pastner’s staff before Dedric and K.J. enrolled. With the two-year requirement ruled to be served under the new proposal, Smith could reassign Keelon Lawson without having to ask the NCAA for a waiver.

The next step as far as Memphis is concerned is Dedric, who ultimately entered his name into the NBA Draft pool (without an agent), withdrawing and returning to school for his sophomore season. As a freshman Dedric was the best freshman in the American Athletic Conference, averaging 15.8 points and 9.3 rebounds per game for the Tigers. currently ranks him 28th amongst college freshmen, which makes him no sure thing to be drafted should he decide to stay in the draft.

At the very least the next month should result in Dedric receiving constructive feedback from NBA scouts and executives that he can use to improve next season.

K.J. played in just ten games last season due to a lingering Achilles tendon issue, averaging 8.8 points and 3.5 rebounds per game. The hope is that K.J. will be granted a medical redshirt for last season, thus preserving a year of eligibility.

CBT Quotables Part IV: The Lawsons, Stephen Zimmerman, Malik Monk

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Over the course of July’s live recruiting period, we at College Basketball Talk will be posting anonymous quotes from coaches about the prospects that they are watching and recruiting. With coverage from the EYBL Finals at the Nike Peach Jam and the UA Finals, the second open period of the month has provided coaches more opportunities to see their recruiting targets in competitive settings.

Here’s what the coaches had to say, with quotes cobbled together from a handful of conversations we had:

MOREQuotables Part I | Part II | Part IIIAll content from the 2014 July Live Period

WF Keelon Lawson, No. 57 Class of 2015, and WF Dedric Lawson, No. 8 Class of 2016: “Today was my first time seeing those guys play. I can see why Josh [Pastner] hired their Dad to be an assistant coach. Those guys are good.”

C Stephen Zimmerman, No. 7 Class of 2015: “I see him dropping in some national rankings, but I would still take him for my team in a heartbeat. You can’t teach of some of the high-IQ plays that he brings to the table.”

CG Antonio Blakeney, No. 16 Class of 2015: “Blakeney really shoots it. He’s a pure scorer that can hit tough shots because he’s got a high release thanks to his elevation. He’s streaky, but he’s a stud.”

PF Deyonta Davis, No. 24 Class of 2015: “He’s almost always the most talented dude out there, but he disappears too much. Get in the weight room, improve his assertiveness. [Tom] Izzo will help that. Remember, he’s still new to the game.”

PF Cheick Diallo, No. 5 Class of 2015: “That guy goes hard. What a competitor. And people don’t seem to mention his skill level, but he’s a pretty good passer and has improved his post game since last summer.”

SG Malik Monk, No. 6 Class of 2016: “Have you seen some of the performances this guy has had? Remarkable scorer. Once he gets another summer and season in the weight room, he might be completely unguardable.”

Five-star 2016 forward Dedric Lawson commits to Memphis

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Memphis picked up a major commitment on Sunday when five-star Class of 2016 forward Dedric Lawson pledged to head coach Josh Pastner.

Lawson confirmed the commitment to following a semifinal victory from his Team Penny grassroots team at Peach Jam.

Lawson’s father Keelon, was named an assistant coach on Josh Pastner’s staff on Wednesday. In October, Dedric’s older brother, K.J. — the oldest of the four brothers — committed to Memphis, as well.

“It’s going to be a blessing,” Lawson said to “Just to be able to [be with family] on a high collegiate level. We’ve been doing it my whole life, so it will be nothing new. It’s just a blessing for us to be able to do it one more time.”

Regarded as the No. 8 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, according to Rivals, the 6-foot-8 Lawson is a major grab for Memphis. Dedric confirmed that his father becoming an assistant coach helped him make his decision.

“What really pushed the issue was my Dad getting the coaching job,” Lawson said. “With him being on staff, there’s no other college I would rather go to.”

Playing in his hometown of Memphis is also a very appealing prospect to Lawson.

“The best thing about Memphis, it’s a great environment,” Lawson said. ” Coach Pastner, he’s a great guy. It’s a great feeling playing in front of your home crowd. It’s just nothing but love in Memphis.”