Tech’s Lawal declares for NBA Draft

Gani Lawal bypassed entering the NBA draft as a sophomore. (Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com)

Gani Lawal bypassed entering the NBA draft as a sophomore. (Jason Getz, jgetz@ajc.com)

Georgia Tech’s Gani Lawal has decided to leave school and enter June’s NBA Draft.

Lawal, a 6-9 junior from Norcross, averaged 13.1 points and 8.5 rebounds a game last season.

“I just feel like I’m ready to move on,” Lawal said. “I think I got the team to the next level.”

Lawal led the Yellow Jackets (23-13) to the championship game of the ACC tournament and second round of the NCAA tournament last season.

He said he’s going to finish this semester and then begin working out to prepare for the NBA draft on June 24 at New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Lawal ranked third in the ACC in rebounding and 14th in scoring to earn third-team All-ACC honors for the second consecutive season.

“His effort and productivity this year was probably the main reason we were able to get to the NCAA tournament,” Tech coach Paul Hewitt said. “He’s a guy that gives great effort. He’s got a great motor. That’s one thing he’ll miss. We’ll miss his scoring and rebounding.”

Lawal informed Hewitt on Tuesday that he was leaning toward going pro. Hewitt said he told him to think about it for a couple of days to make sure. Hewitt said he hasn’t spoken this week to freshman Derrick Favors, a projected lottery pick if he leaves school, about the NBA.

Lawal entered his name into the NBA Draft last season but then withdrew. He said the decision this time was much easier.

“I wasn’t really sure last year,” he said. “This year I’m a lot more certain of myself. Last year, I was kind of testing the waters. I wasn’t really quite sure. Coming back this year, playing, improving and expanding my game, learning the game and playing it the right way.”

He said that Hewitt’s decision to withdraw his name from the St. John’s coaching search didn’t factor into his decision because he never thought Hewitt would actually leave.

Lawal’s mother, Michelle, said she supports her son’s decision.

“At this point in his life, he knows what’s better for him than I do,” she said. “I’m just mom and that’s what we are here for. After you raise your kids and give them the nurturing that they need you just pray that they follow the way.”

Lawal will return to Tech to finish his management degree. His parents have said that education always comes first. Lawal said he understands that and will honor a promise he made to his parents to finish school. But until then he’s going to try improve his game and draft status. He said it’s too early to tell where he may be selected. NBAdraft.net projects him to go 19th to San Antonio.

“I know I have a lot to work on, but I’m prepared to approach it,” Lawal said. ” Once I do get drafted, that’s where it starts. The journey starts there.”

107 comments Add your comment

GTFan

April 2nd, 2010
4:02 pm

Once again, all about the money when it comes to college kids…makes me sick!

GTSteve

April 2nd, 2010
4:03 pm

No surprise here

wiley

April 2nd, 2010
4:03 pm

Cant blame him. Thanks for the three years Gani! If all our players would stay like Gani did…maybe we can have some sort of consistency….

GTA

April 2nd, 2010
4:05 pm

@GTFan –> would you want to play for an underachieving team for four straight years when you have the opportunity to go to the pros and make an impact while earning money? If Tech was going to be good next year, I would have a different mindset, similar to yours. However, we’ll probably hear the same excuses we always hear and will have the same 7-9 or 6-10 or worse finish in the conference.

Scott

April 2nd, 2010
4:06 pm

Thanks for 3 years Gani…but in my opinion you’re not ready for the NBA.

Chris

April 2nd, 2010
4:10 pm

McDonald’s All American who stayed for 3 seasons. Can’t ask for much more out of the guy.

Jacket Backer

April 2nd, 2010
4:13 pm

i’m shocked….

GT3O

April 2nd, 2010
4:15 pm

appalling….

DUH!!

April 2nd, 2010
4:16 pm

Good point Chris! GTFan I’m sure you would have stayed four years and passed up millions to continue to play for Hewitt… you sound like the selfish one. Get a life! GOOD LUCK GANI! Been a pleasure watching you play.

John

April 2nd, 2010
4:17 pm

Good Luck Gani. I hope you do your best and the rest of the GA Tech family understands

Biff Pocoroba

April 2nd, 2010
4:18 pm

Why can’t we get Hewitt to leave early too? Lawal probably lost a lot of money by coming back and spending one more year in Hewitt’s “system” with no point guard.

Kenneth

April 2nd, 2010
4:24 pm

Good job Gani, good luck in the NBA and you had a fine career at GT.

KC in Smyrna

April 2nd, 2010
4:25 pm

3 years from Gani. That’s more than you can expect out of any McDonald’s All American. Thanks for the times Gani. I can’t help but wonder if he’ll make the 1st round. There is a lot of guys declaring and I’m not sold on Gani’s NBA potential.

Shug

April 2nd, 2010
4:26 pm

Easy come, easy go.

bigdave

April 2nd, 2010
4:27 pm

good luck Gani…

worm

April 2nd, 2010
4:30 pm

pity the team that drafts him..A classic underacheiver.

misterwax

April 2nd, 2010
4:34 pm

a guy who shoots 55% at the FT line has “improved his game” UGH!!!
Hewitt and his caoching skills are a complete farce.

Engy

April 2nd, 2010
4:34 pm

Lawal hustled for our team and he certainly deserves his due. I’m just glad he stayed around for one extra season.

ronaldjc

April 2nd, 2010
4:35 pm

Did you “selfish” Techsters read the article? He said he will FINISH school this semester, not just stop going to class. What that tells me is that school IS important to him he will get his degree when he comes back as a MILLIONAIRE. What was more shocking to me was this statement – “I think I got the team to the next level.”

What???? First, there is no “I” in team, and second, what level? The second round of the NCAA? (Insert Richard Pryor’s voice here) Please!!!!

Mr. Lawal, congrats on your decision and if I could be as presumptious as to offer you some advice, pick your friends wisely, save your money, and come back and finish your degree when your NBA career is over.

GT

April 2nd, 2010
4:36 pm

Maybe the worst foul shot shooter in Tech history. Like a drunk sailor under the basket, no real moves. He is above average at defense. Try to sell that in the NBA.

ThatGuy

April 2nd, 2010
4:42 pm

He will do fined in the NBA, They play no DEFENSE so he will probably avg a dbl dbl….

Ripdog

April 2nd, 2010
4:43 pm

How dare he forsake his education for millions of dollars.

worm

April 2nd, 2010
4:44 pm

ThatGuy, how the heck is he gonna’ average a dbl,dbl in the NBA, when he couldn’t in college?

Recipe For Success

April 2nd, 2010
4:48 pm

Boy…there’s a surprise. Another Tech player leaving early to occupy an NBA bench, or prison cell (see Javaris Crittenton). What a classy program! Way to go Tech student athletes!

Joe

April 2nd, 2010
4:50 pm

Good luck Gani it was time for you to leave Tech you did all you could at Tech now it’s time for pro ball.

Tim Tebow's Tears

April 2nd, 2010
4:50 pm

we suck again…

Paul Hewitt's Agent

April 2nd, 2010
4:52 pm

I have a new client!

HugoStiglitz

April 2nd, 2010
4:56 pm

We all knew this was coming. Good luck Gani! Thanks for the good years at Tech. There is no telling how bad we would have been without you.

BravesFan

April 2nd, 2010
5:00 pm

Personally… i think Lawal was overshadowed this year by Favors, and would come out MUCH better as far as a NBA career goes if he stayed another year. If he stayed 1 more year i really think he would be a top 15 pick. Now i see him as a late 1st round pick.
Thanks for the 3 years tho Gani, and thanks for your nonstop effort on the court! We need more 3-4 years at GT from top recruits and we will be able to compete with the UNC’s and Dukes of the world, every year. Oyea.. Hewitt needs to break down and realize his weakness, and hire a lead assistant that is a older ex-head college coach. Hand over the offensive reigns Hewitt… just like how Paul Johnson handed over the defensive reigns.

4 jacks

April 2nd, 2010
5:08 pm

Thanks Gani for all the hard work. We wish you the best in your NBA career. To all those dissing the kid, why would you come back? He will not only make millions, but will actually get some real coaching, something he will not get under Hewitt. Also, it keeps alive the excuses for Hewitt. Guys leave to early, we are young, and oh yeah, we have bad luck. Wish Gani could take this joke of a coach with him

military dog

April 2nd, 2010
5:11 pm

Good luck young man, God Bless, You represented GT well, Work hard and be bless

Tech continues to be irrelavent

April 2nd, 2010
5:13 pm

Quote “I just feel it is time to move on” what he really means: “We suck and we will continue to as long as we are handcuffed to this loser coach and no fan support”. NBA here I come.

Derrick Favors

April 2nd, 2010
5:14 pm

Hey Gani, don’t leave me here with this pile of crap. I am NBA bound too.

Tech First

April 2nd, 2010
5:16 pm

BIG G! GOODLUCK NORCOSS BABY THANK YOU FOR 3 YEARS!!!!!!!!!!!!

All I'm Saying Is...

April 2nd, 2010
5:20 pm

He was a McDonald’s All-American and he stayed in school for 3 years? I’m shocked that anyone is upset by this.

Hope you get drafted in the first round (where your contract is guaranteed) and best of luck with your career!

James Oglethorpe

April 2nd, 2010
5:21 pm

WHEN I FOUNDED THE STATE OF GEORGIA, I HAD THE VISION OF A GREAT COLLEGE THAT WOULD EDUCATE AND PROVIDE EXCITEMENT FOR THE WHOLE STATE! MY VISION HAS COME TRUE! THANK GOD FOR THE UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA! HOWEVER, THERE IS A SCHOOL THAT CLAIMS TO BE AT THE LEVEL IF NOT BETTER THAN UGA! HAHAHA, THIS IS A JOKE! GT IS A SORRY SORRY SORRY EXCUSE FOR A COLLEGE AND CAN NEVER BE ON THE LEVEL OF THE BULLDOGS OF UGA!

Reality Bites

April 2nd, 2010
5:26 pm

LoL @ u Gani supporters…… cant shoot free throws, cant back down anyone in post, has NO move to basket. Good luck Gani, you ARE gonna neeed it. Oh, and good riddance. Any chance u can take peeehewitt with ya?

Matt

April 2nd, 2010
5:30 pm

You know, I’m sure GTFan and others would have turned down a job with a seven-figure salary for the sanctity of getting a college degree. Gani’s an athletic talent who will receive a lot more (and better considering Hewitt) training in the NBA than at GT.

mick

April 2nd, 2010
5:42 pm

So when you were 20 years old and someone offered you 7 figures annual salary to leave college, what would you do? This is a no-brainer. Good luck.

James Oglethorpe's goat

April 2nd, 2010
5:54 pm

Please get off the computer and come back to bed…are you on the “dawgvent” again??

Michael

April 2nd, 2010
6:00 pm

Go DAWGS!!!!!!!!!!

Unbiased

April 2nd, 2010
6:01 pm

13.1 points and 8.5 rebounds…Sounds like NBA material to me;-)

GT71

April 2nd, 2010
6:16 pm

2-3rd round, no playing time, out of roundball in 3 years, selling insurance or cars in 4 or European basketball. But I wouldn’t want to play for Tech next year either.
Good luck, Gani.
You’ll need all you can get.

Mike E

April 2nd, 2010
6:17 pm

“the next level” —-D-League in a year….

GTRay

April 2nd, 2010
6:43 pm

Some of you guys make me sick. Gani is a quality person who gave us 100% for 3 years and you couldn’t ask for a better representative for GT. Couldn’t ask for more. I would hope that his remaining teammates lived up to his example. I wish him well whether or not he makes it in the pros.

Johnny Hazeltine

April 2nd, 2010
6:55 pm

Here’s predicting that the Mavs make a move to get into the late 1st round, and draft Lawal.

Reggie

April 2nd, 2010
6:57 pm

Wish the young man the best!! You GT fans are starting to sound like you have a dawg attached to your name. Get a life of your own!!!

CHAMPS

April 2nd, 2010
7:18 pm

Best of luck Gani, and thank you too. Make sure you get that degree young man. If you dont you will be like a dawg fan ;)

CaliTechFan

April 2nd, 2010
8:07 pm

College hoops is really starting to suck!!! All the talent is being sucked up into the NBA leaving behind mediocre teams. I understand the decision to leave because it is an option but the NCAA/NBA need to come to an agreement for the good of basketball, not for the good of their own pockets. I’m not sure which makes me more mad……this situation or the lack of a playoff in college football. Can’t say enough how tired I am of watching coaches/media determine who is #1. What is this, Ice Skating???

killerJ

April 2nd, 2010
8:52 pm

Make it and grab life by the horns! Take the gift and run with it! Always remember……………… THWG BABY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!