Tubby Smitth says he expects Dedric Lawson to stay at Memphis - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Tubby Smitth says he expects Dedric Lawson to stay at Memphis

(Source: WMC Action News 5) (Source: WMC Action News 5)

With Memphis Tigers star Dedric Lawson testing his draft stock at the NBA combine, a growing concern arose with the hiring of new head coach Tubby Smith.

Lawson’s father Keelon Lawson, a Josh Pastner hire, had a role on the bench as a coach that no doubt has influence on his son’s choice to either defect to the NBA or stay with the Tigers.

When Tubby Smith revealed his coaching staff for the 2016-17 season, the elder Lawson was included, moving to a role as director of player personnel.

The move to keep Lawson, whose other son K.J. is also on the Tigers squad, brought pressure to Smith as the Tigers move forward with the new coach.

"I also have a loyalty to guys that have been with me, who've helped me be successful and get to NCAA tournaments, which we want to do at the University of Memphis,” Smith said. “Did it ever come to a point, this is how it is, take it or leave it? No. If you talk to people in a rational way, and I think he has respect for what we've been able to do, and I have a lot of respect for Coach Lawson, so I think he wants to see Memphis do well too. He's from Memphis, he has two sons here. Why wouldn't he? I know he's disappointed he's not full-time, but again, it gives him the chance to be a part of our program and hopefully I'll learn some things form him and he'll pick up some things from us.”

Smith admits keeping Dedric Lawson, the AAC Rookie of the Year, on his team is one of the many tasks he has with his new job.

However, it is ultimately Lawson’s decision.

Smith said he is glad Lawson is testing the NBA Draft waters as an invited underclassman at the pre-draft camp.

While some physical attributes, like his 7’2” wingspan and 9.5” hand size, are elite, his explosiveness is still under development. Lawson recorded some of the slowest times and lowest leaping ability among those invited to camp.

"In Dedric's situation, I think he recognizes, ‘I need more time. I need more time to develop other things of my basketball skill set, as well as maturity.’ I think it takes a while for anybody at that level to compete at that level, unless you're just a surefire lottery pick first rounder, it's probably advantageous for you to come back,” Smith said.

Lawson still has workouts set with individual NBA teams, including the Memphis Grizzlies.

The deadline for Lawson to pull out of the draft and return to Memphis is May 25.

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