Welcome to the NBA, A.J. Lawson.
Though he didn’t hear his name called in Thursday night’s NBA Draft, the South Carolina guard “has agreed to a deal with the Miami Heat,” ESPN inside Adrian Wojnarowski reported at 2 a.m., citing league sources.
“Thank you @MiamiHEAT for an opportunity ... will not regret it,” Lawson posted to Twitter.
After sitting outside most top prospect lists, Lawson raised his stock in recent weeks. Coming off a season in which he averaged a career-high 16.6 points per game, Lawson initially wasn’t invited to the NBA Draft Combine. But Lawson earned a combine invite after a strong showing at the NBA G League Elite Camp.
The athletic 6-foot-6 Lawson stacked up favorably among guards at the combine, ranking fourth in both max vertical leap and standing vertical and second in the shuttle run. In the last few weeks, Lawson worked his way into ESPN’s top 100 prospects list, sitting at No. 74 on draft night.
Though Lawson’s time in Columbia didn’t include an NCAA tournament run, his legacy at South Carolina is secure. Lawson became the 47th Gamecock to score 1,000 career points last season, finishing his career with 1,153 points on 40.7% shooting from the field. He ranks eighth in program history with 164 3-pointers.
And while USC dealt with three separate COVID-19 shutdowns and struggled to field a full lineup throughout the season, Lawson started every game and was the team’s most consistent scorer.
“I feel like each year I’ve grown more and more,” Lawson said at the end of the year. “This year I’ve grown (a lot); we had to go through so much. Every Division I athlete who’s been through this COVID season — it’s hard. I feel like me sticking to the grind every day, trying to get better and still learning, I feel like that just shows how much I care for this game and how much I love it. It was hard, but I’ve been through it, lived through it.”