Lots of Lawsons, including two recruits, enjoyed KU’s Late Night in the Phog

By Gary Bedore gbedore@kcstar.com

Keelon Lawson — the father of Kansas forwards Dedric and K.J. Lawson as well as current Memphis high school standouts Chandler and Johnathan Lawson — said all five had a wonderful time at Saturday’s Late Night in the Phog at Allen Fieldhouse.


“I really enjoyed it,” Keelon Lawson said Thursday in a phone conversation with The Star. “The last time I saw something like that was when coach Cal (John Calipari) did the Midnight Madness in Memphis. You know how long ago that was?”

Calipari, who now coaches Kentucky, was head coach at Memphis from 2000-2009.

“I know my boys really liked it,” Keelon added. “K.J. and Dedric … that was their first Late Night. They had a great time (as did) Chandler and Johnathan, and I know James enjoyed it as well.”

James happens to be James Wiseman, a 6-foot-10, 210-pound junior power forward from Memphis East High School. Wiseman, the No. 2-ranked player in the recruiting Class of 2019 by Rivals.com, is a high school teammate of Chandler Lawson, a 6-8, 200-pound junior small forward ranked No. 21 nationally and Johnathan Lawson, a 6-5 freshman combo guard expected to be a top 10 player in the Class of 2021.

“James is a big-time player. James is a pro,” said Keelon Lawson, who left the University of Memphis after one season as head coach Tubby Smith’s director of player development. Keelon was a full-time assistant for previous coach Josh Pastner for two seasons at Memphis.

“He is 6-11, runs the floor well, has good hands and has a nice shot,” Keelon said of Wiseman. “He’s learning how to be a force on defense by challenging a lot of shots, altering a lot of shots. James is going to be special.”

Keelon described Chandler Lawson as “a small forward. He can shoot, dribble, do all of it. His basketball IQ is high. Being able to play the 3 and 4 is to his advantage.”

Of Johnathan, Keelon said: “He is more of a point guard. He runs the team. He calls himself a ‘Baby Ball.’ He likes Lonzo Ball. He likes to be a big guard, to pass and facilitate. They (sons Chandler and Johnathan) both let the game come to them. They don’t try to do anything out of their character as far as playing.”

Wiseman is considering KU, Kentucky, Tennessee, Duke, Indiana, Vanderbilt, Florida, North Carolina and others. The Lawsons are considering KU, Memphis, Tennessee and others.

“Whoever shows them interest, they are going to show interest back,” Keelon Lawson said of his sons.

Asked if KU had a chance he said: “KU has a chance to get any player in the country.”

“They are ready to have a good season,” he added of the three Memphis East players who will be trying to propel East to its third straight Tennessee AAA state title.

Grimes’ mom won’t push for KU

KU recruting target Quentin Grimes’ mom attended KU, which has made some recruiting analysts believe KU leads Kentucky, Marquette and Texas in the recruitment of the 6-5 senior combo guard from College Park High in The Woodlands Texas.

“It will be Quentin’s decision with the family’s input,” Grimes’ (Basketball University) AAU program director Rhossi Carron told Rivals.com. “Quentin’s mom went to Kansas, but she made it clear with the coaching staffs that she only cares about the opportunity or situation that is absolutely best for her son — his development, being in a program that wins and ultimately helping him achieve his dreams. If Kansas is the school that Quentin feels and the family agrees and that’s it, then that’s what it will be. If it’s Kentucky or Texas or Marquette, that’s what it will be. But that has nothing to do with the final decision.”

Grimes — who is ranked No. 11 in the Class of 2018 by Rivals.com — will visit KU on Oct. 13-15 and Marquette on Oct. 20-22. He previously visited Kentucky last weekend and Texas on Sept. 22-24.

Watford nets KU offer

Trendon Watford, a 6-8, 220-pound junior forward from Mountain Brook High School in Birmingham, Ala., reported on Twitter this week he’s received a scholarship offer from KU. He’s also been offered by Alabama, Auburn, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, Mississippi State, TCU and others. He’s ranked No. 18 in the recruiting Class of 2019 by Rivals.com.

Embiid cleared to practice

Former KU center Joel Embiid of the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers has been cleared for fullcourt, 5-on-5 basketball, Philly.com reported on Thursday. In fact, Embiid participated in fullcourt drills Thursday for the first time since undergoing surgery March 24 to repair a meniscus tear in his left knee.

The 7-footer from Cameroon missed Wednesday’s 2017-18 exhibition opener and will be held out of Friday’s second preseason game. The squad has three games next week — Monday at Boston, Wednesday vs. New Jersey and a week from Friday against the Miami Heat at the Sprint Center.

“I would like to play preseason, because last year it helped me get in a groove and to get back to the dominant player that I want to be,” Embiid told Philly.com.

Embiid missed his first two seasons in the NBA because of a pair of surgeries to repair the navicular bone in his right foot. He had a stress fracture that prevented him from playing in the postseason in his lone season at KU in 2013-14. He played in 31 games last season and averaged 20.2 points per game and 7.8 rebounds a game.

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