Kansas basketball big-man coach Norm Roberts flipped a shot off the backboard into the hands of 6-foot-9, 230-pound Dedric Lawson, who, after getting slugged by a manager’s blocking pad, flushed a dunk Tuesday at the Jayhawks’ practice facility next to Allen Fieldhouse.
“Practice for me has been very fun and competitive. I love the way the coaches coach us and the way the players compete every day at practice,” Lawson said.
Lawson and his brother, fellow Memphis transfer K.J. Lawson, on Tuesday joined their new KU teammates for the Jayhawks’ third pre-Italy trip workout. The Jayhawks will have 10 practices in all before playing four exhibition games in Italy during Aug. 2-6.
“A lot of things are done differently, just from a coach’s standpoint, from guys being in the gym more than just the time that (they are) given to be in the gym,” power forward Dedric Lawson added of differences between Memphis, where he averaged 19.2 points and 9.9 boards last season for the 19-13 Tigers, and Kansas.
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“That’s something I am open arms to. It really surprises me to see how many guys will be in the gym late at night and (it) encourages me to stay in the gym,” Lawson stated.
Dedric Lawson spoke with media Tuesday for the first time since arriving on KU’s campus in early June for the start of summer school.
“I feel great here. Guys have been open arms with us,” Lawson said, speaking for himself and brother K.J. (6-8, 205) who will have three years of eligibility remaining to Dedric’s two.
“Devonté (Graham) took us under his wing and Malik (Newman). Those guys made it comfortable here for us,” Dedric added.
The Lawson brothers will play for KU in the exhibition games in Italy but not play during the 2017-18 regular season or postseason in accordance with NCAA transfer rules.
“It does feel like it is free,” Lawson said of his mind during a redshirt season.
“You don’t have to get ready for a game. You have to push the guys who are playing this year. That’s what me and my brother and the other guys, Charlie (Moore, Cal transfer) have been doing, just competing with them, making those guys get better every day, giving them a better look that they will probably get in the game.”
Lawson said one goal is to work on his body this summer and next school year.
“The thing with coach Hudy (Andrea, strength coach) … we work on quick things, quick twitches, posture, staying down, things like that,” Dedric Lawson said. “Getting my running right, eating the right way. Something I’ve been trying to focus on is my eating habits, trying to change my diet and eat proper things. I try to cut back on a lot of red meat lately, things I’ve been trying to do for myself to make myself a better athlete overall.”
He smiled when asked what was the toughest form of red meat to give up.
“Memphis barbecue. It’s the best barbecue anyway,” Lawson, a Memphis native, stated.
KU coach Bill Self says he’s been happy to welcome the Lawson brothers to the KU program.
“I’d say K.J. is more serious; Dedric is more of the clown,” Self said. “I’d say they both are very competitive in different ways. They have some of the Morris twins’ (Marcus and Markieff) traits. They definitely look out for each other. If you fight one you are going to have to fight ’em both probably, much like the (Morris) twins. I see kids that are happy to be here. They’ve been really good since they’ve been here. They seem like they are both doing well.”
The Italy trip
KU will play all-star teams from Rome and Milan on its trip to Italy.
“We won’t do a scouting report or go watch them play or study them. We’ll just go out and play,” Self said. “Of course when you get over there it’ll get competitive. For the most part it won’t be a pickup game, but it’ll be closer to a pickup game than a regular-season game probably.”
Self said the 10 practices in Lawrence will mean more than the four games.
“Even though we are going there to play ball, it’s kind of a reward trip too,” Self said. “We’ll go over there and maybe get a little bit better basketball-wise, but the getting better basketball-wise it is going to take place here in Lawrence. It’s not going to take place over there.”
Self said though the Lawson brothers, Moore and Sam Cunliffe (eligible second semester) will play in the games in Italy, they probably won’t play at the same time as the players eligible to start the 2017-18 campaign.
“We’re going to play everybody. We’ll keep our guys that are eligible together, getting the majority of the reps together,” Self said. “I think it’s great for those kids to do what Malik (Newman, eligible after transferring from Mississippi State and sitting out the season) did last year and have to sit and learn and be patient and grind a little bit, not be catered to. I think that was pretty healthy for Malik. I think it’ll be healthy for these guys, too.”
KU coaches to hit road recruiting
College basketball coaches, including the ones at KU, will hit the road recruiting from Wednesday until Sunday of the next three weeks during the July open evaluation period.
“We are looking for everything,” Self said. “I think we could lose five or six guys. So we’ve got to sign big. We’ve got to sign little. We’ve got to sign point guard, tall wings. We need to sign a little bit of everything. Recruiting-wise this is probably as important a year as we’ve had because potentially what we could lose this year.”
Summer league highlights
Former KU guard Frank Mason scored 24 points on 9-of-13 shooting with six assists and five rebounds in Sacramento’s 95-92 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday in an NBA summer league game in Las Vegas. He was 2 of 3 from three.
Former KU guard Wayne Selden scored 17 points with six rebounds, two assists and four turnovers in Memphis’ 84-81 win over Utah on Tuesday.