Did Gani Lawal make a mistake by leaving Georgia Tech early? HS coach defends NBA second-rounder

Was it a mistake for Gani Lawal to bypass his senior season at Georgia Tech for the NBA Draft? He was selected in the second round (No. 46 overall) by the Phoenix Suns last week.

Was it a mistake for Gani Lawal to bypass his senior season at Georgia Tech for the NBA Draft?

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His high school coach at Norcross defended the decision. “I don’t think he left college too early,” said Eddie Martin, who now coaches at Greater Atlanta Christian. ”I think Gani is ready for the next level and to be challenged … to grow in a program, hopefully like the Suns.”

“I had talked to Gani on several occasions, and told him ‘Make sure you’re getting the right information from the right people before you make that final decision.’ He called me back later and said, ‘Coach, I feel like it’s time for me to make the next step and go through the learning process.’

“People can question it all they wanted. But the bottom line is … only 60 people get drafted each year for the NBA, and Gani is one of those guys. Now it’s time to go to work and prove that he can really play at that level.”

Did Lawal have anything to gain with his basketball game by staying at Georgia Tech for another year? “It’s hard to say … who knows? I don’t know what kind of recruiting class that [Tech] has coming in for this year,” Martin said. “If Favors and [Lawal] had stayed, that obviously would make Georgia Tech on paper anyways a very talented team. But who is to say? We can only speculate about the scenario.”

Martin had two of his former Norcross players drafted by the NBA last week. Along with Lawal, Wake Forest forward Al-Farouq Aminu was taken at No. 8 overall by the Los Angeles Clippers.

“I couldn’t be happier for both of them,” Martin said. “Two great basketball players and two outstanding young men.”

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32 comments Add your comment

[...] Did Gani Lawal make mistake by leaving Georgia Tech early? HS coach defends …Atlanta Journal Constitution (blog)Was it a mistake for Gani Lawal to bypass his senior season at Georgia Tech for the NBA Draft? He was selected in the second round (No. …Suns announce 2010 NBA Summer League RosterFanster.com (blog)Summer Suns summaryAZ Central.com (blog)all 4 news articles » [...]

Tucker or Stephenson?

July 1st, 2010
7:00 am

KC in Smyrna

July 1st, 2010
7:04 am

Gani should have left after his 2nd year. He would have been viewed as higher potential than coming back for his 3rd year. He should have left as a sophomore or senior. It was dumb to come out this year.


July 1st, 2010
7:09 am

Last year, depending on what mock draft you look at, he was projected at about the same spot. Gani was projected in the late first round for both years and he very well may have been drafted around the same spot last year. I think he should have waited till after his senior year…but not leaving as a Sophomore was not a mistake. He didn’t really improve or hurt his draft stock this season.


July 1st, 2010
7:10 am

If he were playing for a different coach next year…he should have stayed. BUT since coach Paul will be around he had nothing to gain and everything to lose. Coach Paul has more than proven that he can take talent and coach them down to his level….


July 1st, 2010
7:31 am

Curiously, in a supposed anti-incumbent year, most of the departing are not retiring but seeking higher office. We may recycle more than we replace. The bad news is that a frustrating 114 seats still have but one contestant. Two of them aren’t even incumbents, meaning they will affect state policy without being vetted by voters. And I have to think that we’d be better off if many had run instead for the Legislature — and cut down on the number running unopposed. Georgia’s problems are numerous. They aren’t going away. There’s too much stale thinking at the Capitol, on both sides of the aisle. New voices would be welcome.


July 1st, 2010
7:33 am

Maybe, maybe not. If he was going to be a second rounder next year, why not come out now. At least he gets a chance to get on a team (make some money) learn the ropes of the NBA, get some playing time and see if he can become a starter. However, if he could have had a magical senior season at Tech, and made a top 10 draft pick, then he screwed up royally.


July 1st, 2010
8:13 am

It’s always the right call to leave early when paul blewitt is your coach. You learn nothing from this moron.

Big Poppa

July 1st, 2010
10:59 am

It was not a mistake. Remember James Forrest. He went back for one more year to improve his draft stock, got injured and never really had a chance in the NBA. The same thing could’ve happened to Gani. It is better to come out while you can and make some money. Don’t get me wrong I highly value education, but he can complete his degree while getting paid. It is a win-win.

Big Ed

July 1st, 2010
12:58 pm

1oldejacket hit it on the head. If Lawal was at Duke, he should have stayed. But with a coach who can not and will not improve his game, it was time to go.


July 1st, 2010
1:03 pm

If he stayed, the risks outweighed the rewards.


July 1st, 2010
1:38 pm

At least Gani is better off than Damon Evans.


July 1st, 2010
1:50 pm

Hah Tech sucks just like Gani Lawal!


July 1st, 2010
2:05 pm

“Tech sucks…” Now there is an eloquent riposte.


July 1st, 2010
2:09 pm

Some of the articles on here aren’t worth printing. What is the mistake? What’s wrong with a player in any sport wanting to take his game to the next level? These kids dream about playing in the pros. Careers are too short in professional sports to sit around and wait. When’s the last time Tech won a national championship in basketball? Why would he stay? Good for him and I wish him the best in the pros. Take your money and go play. There are too many outsiders that have no idea what it takes and how much work these players put in on a daily basis. They should be rewarded and he has been. Good luck.

Johnny Hazeltine

July 1st, 2010
2:35 pm

His timing was wrong. He should have left LAST YEAR. He wasn’t a guaranteed 1st rounder, but teams were higher on him when the PF class last year was so diluted.


July 1st, 2010
2:51 pm

good for Lawal , he made the right decision and what would he gain if he stayed with PH ? The worst coach in the ACC by far , never coaches players up and his won loss record in the conf is a joke, time for him to GO !!!

one tech fan not drinking the kool aid

July 1st, 2010
3:18 pm

I think he left a year too late , playing another year under Hewitt would’ve been a huge mistake.
Good luck to the young man.


July 1st, 2010
4:24 pm

No doubt, he should of stayed his Senior year.


July 1st, 2010
4:25 pm

Would have made more money leaving last year. (you only have so many miles on those legs)

I wonder what DF would have done as THE big man?

Dark Knight

July 1st, 2010
4:33 pm

Gani Lawal made the right decision. Staying at Tech another year would not have improved his draft position. At this time, Gani is what he is…a good rebounder and defender that will come to play every night. Some NBA experience may allow him to develop into something more. Big Baby Davis was also a second round pick. Staying an extra year would not have improved his position either. Gani, you did all you could for Tech basketball. Now it is time for you to do something for yourself.


July 1st, 2010
4:49 pm

Take the money and run,if their dumb enough to pay you that much,wouldn,t think twice about it ,secure for life or a better start than most people.

Shot Doctor

July 1st, 2010
6:22 pm

He needs to get rid of that gimmick free throw form and work on shooting the basketball like a basketball player. If not he will be stuck at 50-60% FTs and 30% outside shot, and he never make the NBA.

Delbert D.

July 1st, 2010
9:29 pm

Practice player. Might get 6-8 minutes.


July 1st, 2010
9:39 pm

Too bad Gani wasn’t at UGA. He could have returned to grow under the unparalled leadership in the Athletic Department.


July 2nd, 2010
3:24 am

I grieve over Lawal leaving for the NBA. That means he probably never get his degree and design all the buildings and bridges that I am sure were in his future had basketball not interfered. No spaceship with Gani’s name on it. sigh

Go Gani

July 2nd, 2010
9:47 am

Gani made the correct choice. The NBA learning curve doesn’t get easier if you stay another year at Tech. He has more to lose by staying in college than to gain.
The NBA drafts potential and Gani has a bunch. I wish Gani the best. Go prove the nay-sayers wrong.


July 2nd, 2010
10:31 am

Meh. I don’t think Gani was going to do much for us here anyway. I think his talent was a little overhyped and I attribute his success last year to playing with Favors. Good for him making it to the next level and I’d love to see him surprise me but I see him being a career bench player.


July 2nd, 2010
11:06 am

He should have stayed. If he had stayed, he would have been one of the dominant big men in the conference and would have been a lottery pick just like Aminu.

Georgia Bred

July 5th, 2010
7:08 am

When I look at a prospect going to the next level I always try to determine what’s his ceiling and what’s his floor? When you look at Gani Lawal, what is his floor? What is it that you pretty much know he’s going to bring to a team? When this player steps on the court you know he can do ______ for you. What is that with Lawal? This past season I watched every GT game that came on TV. IMO Lawal is not ready to make an impact on offense, he’s a HORRRIBLE FT shooter, he’s a solid rebounder, and a solid defender. He has enough athletic ability. My only worry with Lawal is that I just don’t see anything that he does well enough to really make an impact. He has a “bull in a china shop” style whenever he gets the ball in the low post, I remember how he would catch the pass and go straight to the rim with the ball no matter what was around him, sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn’t. I don’t see that happening in the NBA… we’ll see. It’s gonna be interesting.


July 7th, 2010
2:55 pm

I didn’t read everything on comment. I hope someone would pay very much attention to this. We all are stuggle with job,house and bills but he was 100 percent wrong to levae and just because he think he will have enough to support his family, it won’t be what he think. Derrick shouldn’t never leave either. College coach need to be aware of those foolish people pull those younger men out of college. I hate to say it but it true and once it over and they going to regret it. I hope they learn their lesson. Please give them some good advice and not bad advice and they going to be rip off soon!! family, friend and mate will take their money


July 8th, 2010
7:11 pm