LITTLE ROCK — With ties to the Razorbacks’ storied past, versatile 2021 Johnathan Lawson of Memphis picked up an Arkansas offer on Monday and a day later he had a virtual tour with head coach Eric Musselman and assistant coach Clay Moser.
Lawson (6-6 combo guard, Memphis Wooddale, ESPN national No. 52 / 4-star prospect) was the 2020 Gatorade Tennessee Player of the Year after averaging 27.2 points, 13.1 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per game in his junior season.
Lawson comes from a basketball family — older brothers KJ and Dedric both played for the hometown Memphis Tigers before transferring to Kansas; older brother Chandler is a freshman at Oregon; and his Dad, Keelon, played his high school basketball with Razorbacks legend Todd Day at Memphis Hamilton in the 1980s and has been a coach for years.
Day — Arkansas’s all-time leader in career points who led the Hogs to the 1990 Final Four in Denver — is very familiar with the Lawson family and their basketball prowess, and he believes Johnathan Lawson could be one of the best talents to come out of basketball-rich Memphis in some time.
“I won a state championship coaching his brothers, and his dad was my center in high school,” Day said. “(Johnathan) may be the best guard out of Memphis since Penny Hardaway!!”
That’s a huge statement, and in truth having seen Johnathan Lawson play in person on multiple occasions his game is more remiscent of Day’s. Lawson is long and wiry strong at 6-6 and 175 pounds, he’s smooth and skilled, and his floor IQ is high.
Arkansas’s coaches obviously like what they see in Lawson, who enjoyed his virtual tour with the Razorbacks staff.
“The virtual tour was good,” he said. “The coaching staff has a lot of experience on the pro and collegiate level which is great. They can help me develop my game and the campus and gym were nice.”
Lawson said Musselman shared his vision of his strengths as a player and potential fit as a Hog.
“Coach Muss told me that my game fits in perfect, that his sytem allows me to push the ball, make plays for others, and it allows me to use my IQ to make others and myself better,” he said.
Asked which schools are standing out righ now in his recruitment, Lawson dropped a handful of names.
“Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Iowa State, Missouri, and Oregon,” he said.
Lawson could commit and sign his national letter of intent by the early period in mid-November.
“I’ll probably sign in the fall,” he said.
Lawson and Arkansas signee Davonte “Devo” Davis were locked into a classic battle in December in the recently revived annual King Cotton Holiday Classic in Pine Bluff. Lawson was spectacular while leading his Wooddale squad with 33 points, 8 rebounds, 4 steals, and 3 blocks, but Davis carried Jacksonville to a come-from-behind 75-72 win with 25 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals.