Tri-State Defender Sport Stories


Report: Lawsons heading to Kansas

By Lee Eric Smith

Kansas. As if it wasn't bad enough that now-former Memphis Tigers Dedric and K.J. Lawson were leaving the University of Memphis, CBS Sports is reporting that the brothers are headed to Kansas — you know, the same school that snatched the NCAA championship away from Memphis back in 2008 in the National Championship game. Gary Parrish (who also hosts a daily show on ESPN Radio in Memphis) reports from CBS Sports: Former Memphis standouts Dedric and K.J. Lawson are transferring to Kansas, their father, Keelon Lawson, told CBS Sports on Monday. A formal announcment is expected soon. Dedric Lawson is a former McDonald’s All-American who averaged 19.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists this season while his brother, K.J. Lawson, averaged 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds. Each will sit out next season per normal NCAA transfer rules and then play for the Jayhawks in the 2018-19 season. Also worth noting: there are two more Lawson brothers -- Chandler and Johnathan. One is a top-25 national recruit in the Class of 2019, the other a top-10 national recruit in the Class of 2021. And their cousin is D.J. Jeffries -- a top-10 national recruit in the Class of 2019. So Hall of Fame coach Bill Self might’ve just become the leader to land multiple future McDonald’s All-Americans in addition to the two players he’s about to enroll. It'll be curious to see how Tigers' fans respond. Is this defection a greater act of treason that John Calipari leaving for Kentucky? Or will fans give the Lawsons a break because they escaped the dumpster fire called Tigers basketball? Or will it even matter once they've both declared for the NBA draft in two years?

Grizzlies lose to Pistons 90-103, no one cares

By Clay Bailey, The Associated Press Detroit's reserves used some sharp accuracy from long range in the fourth quarter to gain a victory. The Pistons shot 6 of 7 on 3-pointers i...

Conley scores 31, Grizzlies beat Knicks to clinch seventh

By Clay Bailey, Associated Press Mike Conley showed a deft shooting touch even through a half-closed eye. Conley, still showing some swelling from a gash under his right eyebrow...

Lawsons: Thanks, we’re leaving!

By Terry Davis, Special to The New Tri-State Defender

Officially, there is no PANIC button that members of Tiger Nation can punch when it appears that the boat carrying the return-to-glory hopes for the University of Memphis Men’s basketball program springs a leak. However, the figurative button got pretty much worn out on Wednesday. Sophomore Dedric Lawson, who was the Tigers’ star, has left the building with his 19.2 scoring average and 9.9 rebounds. And his freshman brother, K.J. Lawson, is going out of the same door at the same time with his 12.3 points and 8.1 rebounds. They asked the university to release them from their scholarships for the purpose of transferring to another school Insert your choice expression for “Oh No!” right here. Head coach Tubby Smith addressed the stunning departures in a written statement. Unfiltered, here is what Smith, had to say: “After meeting with K.J., Dedric, and their parents this morning, I was informed that K.J. and Dedric were going to be asking for their release from the University. I am surprised and disappointed in the decision, as they had a strong year for us, and were a big part of our success during the season. We want to thank the Lawson family as a whole and appreciate what they have contributed to the program. My staff and I are completely committed to building a strong program that is in line with the storied history of Memphis Basketball.” For many, the first word of the bombshell came via a social media post from K. J. Lawson. “Dedric and I, along with our family would like to first thank The Univerisity of Memphis, the Men’s Basketball program, Coach Tubby Smith and Staff and above all Tiger Nation, for giving us the opportunity to play for Our Home Team. We are born and raised in Memphis, love the city with all of our hearts, however, we must do what is best for our future, our dreams, and our family so we plan to transfer from the university. “While we have enjoyed our tenure here, the time has come for us to explore some new opportunities. It is for that reason that we are asking for a release from the University of Memphis Men’s Basketball program. We both understand and are aware of the rules and regulations regarding this decision, and we are fully prepared to comply with them. We would like to wish the school’s basketball program nothing but the best, in all of its future endeavors. “Thank you to our family, the University of Memphis, our coaches past and present, teammates and Tigers Fans for all your support. “Signed “Dedric and KJ Lawson” Keelon Lawson worked at Memphis as director of player development this season after spending two years as an assistant coach on former Memphis coach Josh Pastner’s staff. Memphis officials didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking clarification on Keelon Lawson’s current status with the program. The departure of the Lawsons means four players from last year’s lacking-depth roster have left the program. Craig Randall and Chad Rykhoek decided to transfer immediately after the season. The Tigers have five available scholarships to offer for the 2017-18 campaign. Meanwhile, Smith has been on the recruiting trail in search of junior college and graduate transfers to fill his roster. He has three returning players – Keon Clergeot, Markel Crawford and Jeremiah Martin – for his rebuilding campaign. Smith did sign three players to early commitment papers in the fall and will try to fill his roster out in the next two months. (The AP contributed to this story.)

Spurs rally late, beat Grizzlies 95-89 in overtime

By Raul Dominguez, Associated Press The Memphis Grizzlies showed the Spurs they will not back down from a fight. Not even when their leader, Mike Conley, takes a blow to the head t...

ESPN reportedly replaces Sage Steele after calls for boycott

By theGrio

Sage Steele is being replaced at ESPN ahead of the NBA playoffs. Steele recently found herself under fire for complaining about protests against Donald Trump as well as for an abrupt end to an interview with Arcade Fire lead singer Win Butler when Butler started to voice his political views. Viewers called for a boycott of “NBA Countdown” in protest of Steele’s behavior. That might be part of the reason ESPN has made such a change so late in the season, with this announcement that Steele would no longer be allowed to host one of the biggest events for the network: “ESPN today announced that Michelle Beadle has been named the full-time host of NBA Countdown on ABC and ESPN. In this role, Beadle will lead the company’s NBA pre-game and halftime shows, including for the NBA Finals on ABC. She will also host ESPN’s and ABC’s studio coverage throughout the NBA Playoffs, which includes ESPN’s exclusive coverage of the Western Conference Finals.” “The only thing better than working for Connor Schell and Kevin Wildes is being able to spend each day with all of the incredibly talented people at NBA Countdown and SportsNation,” Beadle said of the new opportunity. “It’s the best job in sports.”

Russell scores 28, Lakers beat Grizzlies 108-103

By Steve Dilbeck, Associated Press

There were many times when Los Angeles Lakers guard D'Angelo Russell would have let early struggles ruin his entire game. Maturity can be a slow evolving game, but against the Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday he was able to shrug off his first-quarter troubles and rebound to score 28 points in a 108-103 victory. Russell, 21, had four turnovers in the first quarter, but the second-year guard had only one more the rest of the game. "I've seen more consistency in his professionalism and in his affecting the outcome of games, whether he's struggling or hitting shots," said Lakers coach Luke Walton. "He had those early turnovers and before those games would kind of snowball and he would struggle the rest of the night." Three Lakers joined Russell's effort by adding double-doubles, handing the Grizzlies a difficult loss. They fell to 42-35 on the season, 1½ games back of Oklahoma City for the sixth spot in the Western Conference with five games to play. "These are games that could have seeding impact for us," said Memphis guard Mike Conley. Conley overcame his own early struggles, scoring 14 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, but missed a 3-pointer with 6.3 seconds to play that could have tied the game. Julius Randle had 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Lakers, while Larry Nance Jr. added 12 points and 14 boards. Thomas Robinson finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds, the first time the Lakers had three double-doubles in a game since Dec. 16, 2014 (Wesley Johnson, Jordan Hill and Ed Davis). The Lakers outrebounded the Grizzlies 51-33 and forced six turnovers in the fourth quarter. "I just thought they caught us by surprise," Memphis guard Tony Allen said. "Their speed, their second-chance points, pick-and-roll coverages, 50-50 balls. It was a little bit of everything." Memphis picked up another 20 points from Troy Daniels off the bench, but no Grizzlies player ended up in double figures in rebounds. "Our guys are tired of losing," Walton said. TIP-INS Grizzlies: Vince Carter, 40, was rested. He had appeared in 50 of the Grizzlies' last 51 games. "He's running on fumes right now and giving me everything he has. I had to find a way to get him a break," coach David Fizdale said. ... C Marc Gasol missed his fourth consecutive game with a left foot strain. Lakers: The Lakers continue to lead the league in scoring (48.1 points per game) off the bench. That could have something to do with having used 23 different lineups. ... After having started 10 consecutive games, rookie center Ivica Zubac missed his second consecutive game with a sore right knee. OHIO STATE Both Conley and Russell were point guards for the Buckeyes. Conley is in his ninth NBA season. Said Russell: "That's my guy. He's one of the vets I've looked up to for a long time. He's really paved the way for a guy like me." PAINFUL WIN The victory could actually prove costly to the Lakers. They are now tied with Phoenix for the league's second-worst record (22-55). If the teams finish tied, they would combine the number of pingpong balls for second and third and then split them evenly in determining lottery picks. UP NEXT Grizzlies: Travel to San Antonio to meet the Spurs on Tuesday. The Grizzlies are 2-1 against the Spurs this season, having won the first two matchups. Lakers: In a slight scheduling oddity, both play the same team next. The Lakers are up second, traveling to San Antonio to meet the Spurs on Wednesday. The Lakers are 0-3 against the Spurs, having lost the three games by an average of 16 points.

NCAA champion coach Dawn Staley says she’d accept White House invite

By theGrio

NCAA women’s basketball champion head coach Dawn Staley would accept an invitation to the White House if it came up. “I’ve got options now. Yeah, I’m going to the White House,” Staley told The Associated Press after the South Carolina Gamecoks’ win on Sunday night that provided Staley with her first title. “It’s what it stands for. It’s what national champions do. We’ll go to the White House.” It would not be the first visit to the White House for Staley, who went with the U.S. Olympic team in 2004 when George W. Bush was in the White House. Staley’s win also made her only the second African-American woman coach to do so. South Carolina star A’ja Wilson also said that she would love to be invited. “I’ve never really been to the White House. It should be exciting to go with this group of girls,” Wilson said. “We’re going to have fun, so I’m excited. Honestly, I’m just going to go and enjoy the moment, just take it all in. This is probably a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so why not enjoy it?”

Grizzlies clinch playoff spot with 99-90 win over Mavericks

By Clay Bailey, The Associated Press Mike Conley can't quite remember what it feels like to miss the Western Conference playoffs. He doesn't have to think about the Memphis Grizzli...

Mississippi State OT buzzer-beater downs UConn, ends 111-game winning streak

By Timothy Burke, The Root

UConn is out of the NCAA tournament and its 111-game winning streak is over after Morgan William hit a buzzer-beater at the end of overtime to send Mississippi State to the women’s championship game by the score of 66-64. UConn was able to tie the game up and set up William’s winner with a highly questionable flagrant foul call on Dominique Dillingham with 27 seconds remaining; UConn didn’t score on the possession, though, giving the Bulldogs the chance to win.