So how about we do the final accounting on the decision of the University of Memphis to hire Keelon Lawson as a member of its basketball staff back in 2014, and the subsequent decision (wink) of sons Dedric and K.J. to join the Tigers as players in the fall of 2015? It’s a little soon after the Final Four to be doing this much work, but the circumstance seems to demand our attention.
Overall won-lostrecord: 56-42.
American Athletic Conference record: 27-27.
NCAA Tournament record: 0-0.
NIT record: 0-0.
After all that, Dedric and K.J. released a statement to Jason Smith of Memphis radio station 92.9 ESPN declaring their intent to ask for releases from Memphis in order to transfer to another college. “While we have enjoyed our tenure here, the time has come for us to explore some new opportunities,” they wrote.
It is rewarding to know they enjoyed their tenure with the Tigers, because at least someone did.
Their tenure ought to be a lesson to any program out there that there no longer is any upside to an arrangement such as this: hiring a staff member who happens to be the parent of a high-level basketball prospect. Or two. Or even three.
Although there was a time when a single player could make a long-term difference in a program, that passed when it became standard procedure for potential program-changing talents to spend no more than a year in college.
Danny Manning spent four years at Kansas and won an NCAA championship after his father, Ed, was hired as a KU assistant coach and Danny followed him to the Jayhawks. He scored 2,951 career points, was a part of two Final Four teams and delivered one of the great title-game performances ever in 1988, with 31 points and 18 rebounds in KU’s 83-79 victory over Oklahoma.
You think you’re getting that these days? If a player comes along with that level of talent, he is almost certainly spending a single year in your program and then moving on to the NBA draft.
If your program can use such a player to make a championship-contending difference in the one year he’ll be on campus, it’s probably sound enough to not need or want to complicate the chemistry of its staff or roster.
If your program is in such a state as to lead to pondering this sort of arrangement, it probably won’t benefit enormously from that player’s one year. If that one year even happens.
Washington hired Michael Porterin May 2016 and made him the program’s highest-paid assistant coach. Michael Porter Jr., the top prospect nationally in the 2017 recruiting class, then signed to attend UW last fall.
When the University of Washington dismissed coach Lorenzo Romar after the Huskies went 9-22 with top NBA prospect Markelle Fultz running the offense, the elder Porter then accepted a three-year contract worth $1.125 million, according to the Kansas City Star, to join new Missouri coach Cuonzo Martin’s staff with the Tigers.
The youngerPorter announced his commitment to Mizzou the day after his father confirmed he was headed to Mizzou.
The Tigers ended last season 8-24, their third consecutive 20-loss season, so they need help. Martin was hired to turn around the program and has a track record of solid if not spectacular performances as a head coach. This seems a curious approach for him to be taking, though, given how much improvement the Tigers need.
For his part, the younger Porter has talked of standing apart from his extraordinary peers and sticking around in college longer than the standard one season. Obviously, there is plenty of room for doubt.