A.J. Lawson had a whirlwind summer, from exploring whether or not to enter the 2019 NBA Draft to playing for Team Canada at the FIBA U19 World Cup in Greece to competing with some of the nation’s best at the Chris Paul Elite Guard Camp in North Carolina.
Lawson was, at one point, at a 50-50 standstill whether or not to enter the draft, he said Monday when meeting with reporters.
“It’s always been a dream of mine to play in the NBA, but I felt like coming back to school this year was the right decision,” the point guard said. “… [NBA talent evaluators] just told me to keep working hard and just learn how to read defenses and make better decisions.”
“Knowing I get to coach A.J. Lawson for another year brings me tremendous joy,” Gamecock head coach Frank Martin said in June.
The 6-6, 178-pound Lawson averaged 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game during his rookie season en route to making the SEC All-Freshman Team. He had 18 double-figure scoring games while also dishing five or more assists a team-best eight times.
Lawson spoke highly of what he believes the Gamecocks, coming off a 16-16 season, can do this coming season.
“I think we’re very talented. We’ve got a lot of new pieces this year and we can do some special things,” he said before adding, “… I feel like we have a lot of talented guys that can just run up and down the floor real quick. I like to play fast, so that definitely excites me.”
Lawson said this will wearing a hand-me-down t-shirt from the program’s trip to the 2016-17 Final Four.
“It’s definitely a goal of ours to go to the Final Four and even further,” he said. “We definitely have potential. I feel like we have a strong team. I feel like if we all work together and have good chemistry, I think we can do some special things and go on a run.”
Lawson started his summer in Greece, where he played for Team Canada. Lawson led the Canadians with 16.7 points per game at the event, while connecting on an average of 5.6 made field goals per outing. He also averaged 3.9 rebounds and 3.4 assists per outing and hit double-figures in five contests.
As of one only two players on the team’s roster with college experience, he took a leadership role with the squad, something he wants to do with his current Gamecock team.
“You have your country’s name out on the front of your chest and your last name on the back of your jersey,” Lawson said. “It’s a good feeling.”
This past weekend he took part in the Chris Paul Elite Guard Camp, where picked the brain of CP3 himself and some of the nation’s best players at his position.
“I learned how to play with pace and just be poised with the ball, not really overwhelm myself with too many dribbles,” Lawson said. “He’s a really good teacher and he taught me a lot.”
For now, Lawson hopes to wind down his busy summer by getting some rest. Because come late August and early September, it’ll be time to rev up the engine for the 2019-20 season.