Monday, February 20, 2017

Memphis Tiger Super Sophs

Posted By on Mon, Feb 20, 2017 at 8:00 AM

Dedric Lawson is only the 10th Memphis men's basketball player to score 1,000 points in his first two seasons as a Tiger. Making the achievement even more impressive, Lawson is only the sixth Tiger to join the 1,000-point club during his sophomore season (and still shy of his 20th birthday).
click to enlarge Dedric Lawson - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Dedric Lawson

Win Wilfong played two seasons at Missouri before transferring to Memphis and scoring 1,203 points in two seasons. The great Larry Finch wasn't eligible to play as a freshman (1969-70), and Penny Hardaway was academically ineligible for his freshman campaign (1990-91). Omar Sneed played two seasons in junior college before scoring his 1,000th point for Memphis in 1999.

So where does Lawson rank among the five other 1,000-point sophomores at the U of M?

6) Darius Washington (2004-06) — Washington will forever be remembered in these parts for missing a pair of free throws after time expired in the 2005 Conference USA championship game at FedExForum, shots that would have sent the Tigers to the NCAA tournament. (Having lost 14 previous games, that team didn't deserve a bid.) D-Wash manned the point for a great 2005-06 team, one that won 33 games and made the first of four consecutive appearances for the program in the NCAA Sweet 16 (losing to UCLA in a regional final). Washington was a shoot-first playmaker who would be considerably higher on the Tiger career scoring chart had he stayed for a third (let alone fourth) season.
click to enlarge Will Barton - LARRY KUZNIEWSKI
  • Larry Kuzniewski
  • Will Barton



5) Will Barton (2010-12) — Barton was named C-USA's Player of the Year after the 2011-12 season, one in which he led the league in scoring (18.0 points per game). Few players as slender as Barton have been as productive in the paint. He was the rare college player who could score off-balance . . . consistently. A member of two NCAA tournament teams, Barton was part of 51 wins in his two seasons as a Tiger. Now a member of the Denver Nuggets, he'll soon become just the ninth former Tiger to play in 300 NBA games.

4) Dedric Lawson (2015-17) — Lawson's success as a college player is staggering when you consider he could well be a freshman this season, having graduated a year early from Hamilton High School so he could jump-start his Tiger career. His 34 career double-doubles already rank sixth in Memphis history. Through 60 games, Lawson has averaged 17.5 points and 9.7 rebounds per game. A leading contender for American Athletic Conference Player of the Year, Lawson is the only player on this list not to appear (yet) in the NCAA tournament.

3) Lorenzen Wright (1994-96) — Wright's life ended tragically in 2010, after the center played in more NBA games (778) than any other former Tiger. But I remember most vividly the freshman rim-shaker, screaming up to the Pyramid cheap seats after another two-handed slam. The Tiger program had suffered a downer in 1993-94 following Penny Hardaway's departure for the NBA.Wright was a college force from the first time he took the floor for coach Larry Finch. He led Memphis in both scoring and rebounding each of his two seasons, accumulating 31 double-doubles in 64 games while averaging 16.0 points and 10.3 rebounds. As a freshman, he helped Memphis to the NCAA tournament's Sweet 16.

2) Elliot Perry (1987-89) — One of two Tigers to score 2,000 career points, Perry led the Tigers in assists each of his four seasons and scoring three times. (Dwight Boyd was the top scorer during Perry's freshman season of 1987-88.) With his goggles and knee-high socks, Perry would have been a crowd favorite for his presentation alone. But he proved to be an exceptional pace-setting point guard. Twice named first-team All-Metro Conference, Perry is second in career steals and fifth in career assists at Memphis.

1) Keith Lee (1981-83) — Lawson's double-double total is impressive until you consider Lee had 37 by the end of his sophomore season, then had 37 more as a junior and senior. The four-time All-America scored 1,113 points as an under-classman, then 1,295 as an upper-classman, helping the Tigers reach the Sweet 16 four years in a row, including the 1985 Final Four. Over the last 32 years, no Memphis player has come within 100 points of Lee's school scoring record (2,408 points) or within 100 rebounds of his rebounding mark (1,336). Over his first two seasons, Lee averaged 18.6 points and 10.9 rebounds per game.

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