Dedric Lawson stroked two deep threes, converted a couple layups off spin moves and slammed several dunks en route to a highlight-reel 20 points in the Kansas Blue Team’s 81-74 loss to the Mitch Lightfoot and Silvio De Sousa-led Red squad in Tuesday’s Bill Self campers game at Horejsi Center.
Lawson, a 6-foot-9, 230-pound transfer from Memphis, who practiced but did not play in KU games last season in accordance with NCAA rules, showed the complete inside-outside game that has led KU coach Self to proclaim him, “a guy who could compete for conference player of the year.”
“Dedric is a big who can shoot. His footwork is ridiculous. He’s a really skilled big. He’s a matchup nightmare,” said KU freshman power forward David McCormack, a McDonald’s All-American out of Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va. Playing on the same team as Lawson on Tuesday, the 6-10, 260-pound McCormack scored 18 points off an assortment of jumpers as well as dunks.
“His ballhandling is great. You put a small on him, he’s going to play in the post. You put a big on him, he’s going to bring it out. He’s a matchup nightmare.”
Lawson — he returned the compliment, calling McCormack “a freak athlete; he goes after every ball” — acknowledged he tries to be an offensive threat all over the court.
“LaMarcus Aldridge,” Lawson said Tuesday, asked which NBA player he personally resembles. “The way he scores all over the floor, mid-range, post. He’s got a nice outside shot. He posts up. I admire his game a lot.”
Lawson averaged 19.9 points and 9.2 rebounds per game his sophomore season at Memphis. He hit 46.1 percent of his shots, making 22 of 67 threes for 32.8 percent.
“I am very comfortable (shooting threes),” Lawson said. “It’s something I work on a lot back home. We get here, Coach Rob (Norm Roberts) does a good job with my big man skills, sharpening those up. The key is getting up a lot of shots.”
Lawson said he’s relieved that he’s eligible to play in games again. He acknowledged that it was tough only practicing during KU’s 2017-18 Final Four season.
“Coach Self helped me with a lot of things from a scout-team standpoint. He helped me focus in on little things,” Lawson said. “Certain days when I came to practice I didn’t want to practice because I felt some days I didn’t have anything to practice for. Coach would tell me, ‘Come on Smooth. Come on Dedric, stick with it, push through it, work on your game.’ We’ve got a lot of superior athletes here. You better work to get shots off Udoka (Azubuike). He helped me a lot, too.”
Lawson added: “We went on a big run at certain points of the season where I felt I could have helped, where we struggled at the 4-spot. Coach made it easy for me to sit out. He always made us (he and brother, Memphis transfer K.J.) feel a part of the team. Overall it was a pretty good sit-out year.”
K.J. Lawson hit three threes and scored nine points for the winning Red team. Azubuike was not feeling well, thus sat on the sidelines and did not play in the scrimmage. As far as the other bigs, Lightfoot hit six threes — yes six — for the winning Red team en route to 22 points. De Sousa had 17 points.
“My bigs are great, good hands, good feel for the game. They are going to help us win some games,” said point guard Charlie Moore, a transfer from Cal, who had 12 points. He cashed three threes.
Former KU wing Travis Releford, who played in Belgium last season, had 10 points for the Red squad. He hit two threes. Other double-figure scorers: E.J. Elliott (12), Sam Cunliffe (11) and Ochai Agbaji (10).
Red 81, Blue 74
BLUE (74): Dedric Lawson 20, David McCormack 18, E.J. Elliott 12, Ochai Agbaji 10, Marcus Garrett 8, Chris Teahan 6. Three-pointers: Elliott 4, Agbaji 2, Teahan 2, D. Lawson 2
RED (81): Mitch Lightfoot 22, Silvio De Sousa 17, Charlie Moore 12, Sam Cunliffe 11, Travis Releford 10, K.J. Lawson 9. Threes: Lightfoot 6, K.J Lawson 3, Moore 3, Releford 2, Cunliffe 1.