The Kansas Jayhawks have absolutely needed Dedric Lawson this season. After a season-ending injury to Udoka Azubuike (torn ligament in right hand), as well as a leave of absence by Lagerald Vick, the majority of the offensive load has shifted to Lawson’s shoulders.
He’s answered the call. The 6-foot-9 junior forward has averaged a double-double with 19 points and 10.4 rebounds a game. He has a versatile skill-set. Size (235 pounds). Shooting (35.4 percent from 3). Defense (1 block and 1.2 steals a contest).
Lawson is by far the highest-usage player on a 22-7 Kansas team that’s angling for a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. Against Tennessee on Nov. 23, he thrived against a potential future pro in Grant Williams, notching 24 points and 13 rebounds.
He enters tonight’s contest at Oklahoma (9 p.m. EST, ESPN2) with some second-round projections in the NBA Draft. Let’s take a look at these prognostications:
Dedric Lawson NBA Draft Projections & Mock Draft
The most recent mock draft from Rob Dauster of NBC Sports left Howard out of the first round. However, he also has Lawson at No. 10 in his college basketball player of the year rankings. He heaps praise on Lawson for succeeding as the sole focus of the Kansas attack.
Kansas has struggled with injuries and Lawson has one of the youngest supporting casts in all of college hoops, but he has still managed to find a way to roll out of bed and put up 20 and 10 on a nightly basis. He has his flaws, but he’s been a rock for Bill Self to build around.
Our own Jon Adams left Lawson off his most recent NBA Mock Draft. Bryan Kalbrosky of Hoops Hype lists him as the No. 48 overall prospect on his aggregate mock draft. The rankings vary between as high as No. 40 by ESPN and not even in the second round by Bleacher Report.
De’Andre Hunter NBA Draft Big Board Rankings
On Aran Smith’s NBA Draft Net’s list of 100 players, Hunter appears out of the second round. He ranks No. 75.
ESPN’s Draft Board has him as the No. 14 power forward and No. 42 player overall. The feeling before the season was that Lawson might earn himself more buzz at a late-first round selection. From 247 Sports in late August:
At this point, it would have to be considered an upset if Dedric Lawson weren’t able to play himself into contention for an NBA Draft selection, if not a late first-round selection.
The buzz on Lawson, who transferred to KU and sat out last year after averaging 19.2 points and 9.9 rebounds per game as a sophomore at Memphis, is that he may very well be KU’s best player. The staff has praised his passing and scoring ability, and it’s also worth noting he has good length and even turned away 2.1 shots per game at Memphis in the 2016-17 season.
He’s proven himself to be the top Jayhawk for Bill Self this season. Another top performance against Oklahoma tonight may not move the needle, but it should keep building momentum for the NCAA Tournament.
There, he has the potential to surge up mock drafts in front of a national audience.