HEADER TYWON "Ty" RONELL LAWSON Point Guard University of North Carolina Tar Heels #5 5:10.7-195 Clinton, Maryland Oak Hill Academy Bishop McNamara High School
OVERVIEW One of the top point guards in Atlantic Coast Conference history, Lawson led Carolina to the 2009 national championship with a spectacular performance in the NCAA Tournament. He produced a Willis Reed-like performance to help UNC reach the title game, returning to action for his final five games, playing with a jammed right toe. He went on to win the 2009 Bob Cousy Award, presented by the Hartford and the Basketball Hall of Fame, given to the best point guard in the country. Lawson was the second Tar Heel to win the award in the last five years with Raymond Felton in 2005.
Lawson was named to the 2009 Final Four All-Tournament Team, was the NCAA South Regional Most Outstanding Player and selected the Atlantic Coast Conference Player of the Year. He was the 18th Tar Heel, and the first UNC point guard, to win NCAA regional MVP honors. He was also the first point guard to win ACC Player of the Year honors since Carolina's Phil Ford in 1978. He became the 12th different Tar Heel to win ACC Player of the Year honors (13th selection overall for UNC) and the second Tar Heel to be named ACC Player of the Year in as many years (Tyler Hansbrough, 2008).
In 14 NCAA Tournament games, Lawson led UNC to a 12-2 record. He averaged 15.5 points, 5.8 assists and 1.7 turnovers per game. He made 65-of-136 shots from the floor (.478), 22 of 47 from 3-point range (.468) and 65 of 82 from the free throw line (.793). He added 81 assists and 24 turnovers, an assist-error ratio of 3.38. He scored in double figures 11 times, including 21 vs. Michigan State in the 2009 national championship.
Part of one of the top backcourt groups in college basketball, as he was joined by Wayne Ellington, Lawson was the "beacon" for the team during his three years in the lineup. His 51.7% shooting from the field is impressive, considering he has played the point throughout his career. He posted one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios in the country in his career (2.78) and his average of 2.57 in that category as a freshman was the second-best season total in school history. He ranks seventh all-time in Tar Heel annals with 608 assists, as his average of 5.79 assists per game rank fifth in school history (17th in ACC annals).
After playing basketball for two seasons at Bishop McNamara High School, Lawson transferred to national powerhouse Oak Hill Academy, where he starred for the hoops team and played soccer. A first-team All-American selection by USA Today, Parade and McDonald's during his senior year, adding team MVP honors. Lawson led Oak Hill to a 42-1 record (won their first 42 games), as he averaged 23.8 points, 9.1 assists and five steals in 2006. He shot 63 percent from the floor, including 42 percent from three-point range, as he had a season-high 37 points, one of nine games in which he scored 30 or more. He also had a season-high 18 assists and produced double-digit assists 18 times.
In summer league competition, Lawson earned Most Valuable Player honors at the World Juniors Tournament in France in June 2005. He participated in the 2006 McDonald's All-Star Game and Jordan Classic, as he also scored 17 points with six assists in the Nike Hoop Summit.
Lawson made an instant impression on Atlantic Coast Conference opponents in his first year at North Carolina. The ACC All-Rookie Team point guard led the league in assist-turnover ratio (2.57 to 1) and was third in assists per game (5.6). He registered 184 assists (213 total, ranking ninth on the school season-record list) and 64 turnovers in his 31 starts, appearing in 38 games. He had more assists than turnovers 32 times, averaging 10.2 points per game on 50% shooting from the field and 68.8% from the charity stripe.
The first-team All-District pick in 2007-08, Lawson was named All-ACC honorable mention. He started 29-of-32 games, averaging 12.7 points, 2.7 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He directed an offense that was second nationally in scoring and led the ACC in scoring, field goal percentage, assists and assist-turnover ratio. He shot 51.5% from the floor and 83.5% from the free throw line this year and helped Carolina average 88.6 points per game en route to winning a school-record 36 games.
Lawson's importance to his team was never more evident than in February. Lawson suffered a high left ankle sprain in overtime vs. Florida State on Feb. 3, missing the rest of the month (six games). North Carolina struggled in every game he missed, losing one to Duke, needing overtime to defeat Clemson at home. The Tar Heels struggled against the worst teams in the Atlantic Coast Conference on the road, including Virginia. With Lawson in the starting lineup, North Carolina averaged 92.1 points per game. With their point guard on the sidelines, the offense averaged 83.4 points without him.
After the NCAA Tournament, Lawson announced that he was applying for early entry to the 2008 NBA Draft.
"I am applying for the draft, but not hiring an agent," says Lawson. "I will work out for NBA teams to get a more precise evaluation of my draft status. After I do that and get more information from the teams, I will make a decision to either stay in the draft or come back to North Carolina for my junior year. I am in good standing academically and plan on doing a great job in my final exams."
Lawson later withdrew his name from the 2008 Draft eligibility list and returned to UNC for the 2008-09 campaign. The All-American selection added USBWA District III Player of the Year honors and was co-MVP of the Tar Heels with Tyler Hansbrough. The Final Four All-Tournament selection, NCAA South Regional MVP, Bob Cousy Award winner, ACC Player of the Year, first-team All-ACC, USBWA District Player of the Year, he was also Carolina's second-leading scorer at 16.6 per game.
Lawson led the ACC in assists (230, 6.6 per), assist-error (3.49) and steals (75, 2.14 per). He was the first player to lead the conference in all three categories since North Carolina State's Chris Corchiani in 1988-89. He shot 53.2 percent from the floor, 47.2 from three-point and 79.8 from the free throw line, becoming the first UNC point guard to ever lead the team in field goal percentage. He was also third nationally in assist-error and eighth in assists per game.
2008-09 SEASON First-team All-American selection by The NBA Draft Report, the NABC, the Los Angeles Athletic Club (Wooden), Sports Illustrated, CBS Sportsline.com and Basketball Times, adding second-team honors from the Associated Press, The Sporting News and Rupp, and third-team accolades by Fox Sports...Named USBWA District III Player of the Year (for Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia)...Co-MVP of the Tar Heels with Tyler Hansbrough...Final Four All-Tournament selection, NCAA South Regional MVP, Bob Cousy Award winner, ACC Player of the Year, first-team All-ACC, USBWA District Player of the Year...Started 35 games, missing the ACC Tournament contests vs. Virginia Tech and Florida State and the opening round of the NCAA Tournament vs. Radford with a right toe jam...Was Carolina's second-leading scorer at 16.6 per game, scoring 581 points on 182-of-342 field goals (.532), 51-of-108 3-pointers (.472) and 166-of-208 free throws (.798)... Led the ACC in assists (230 total, 6.6 apg), assist-error (3.49) and steals (75, 2.14 spg), as he became the first player to lead the conference in all three categories since North Carolina State's Chris Corchiani in 1988-89...Became the first UNC point guard to ever lead the team in field goal percentage and also was fourth in the conference in field goal percentage (first among guards) and ninth in scoring...Ranked third nationally in assist-error and eighth in assists per game...Would have ranked first in the ACC in 3-point percentage (.472), but didn't make enough three-pointers to qualify...Scored 20 or more points in nine of his last 16 games and 11 overall...Two-time ACC Player of the Week selection (after Maui and Duke/Miami)...Had 230 assists and only 66 turnovers, a record-setting assist-error ratio of 3.49 that is the best single-season assist/error ratio in ACC history (previous UNC record 2.98 by Jeff Lebo in 1986; previous ACC record of 3.35 by Sidney Lowe of North Carolina State in 1983)...His assist-error ratio in the 32 wins in which he played was 4.1 (219 assists, 54 turnovers)...Committed one or fewer turnovers in 16 games...Had nine more steals (75) than turnovers (66)... Was just the second Tar Heel since 1981 with 50 or more steals to finish a season with more steals than turnovers (Michael Jordan had 78 steals and 76 turnovers in 1983)...Scored 58 percent (337 of 581) of his points in the second halves, including 69.2 percent (166 of 240) in his last 13 games... Won UNC Defensive Player of the Game honors five times...Scored in double figures in 28 of his last 30 games...Had at least six assists without a turnover in six games...Earned Most Valuable Player honors in the EA Sports Maui Invitational, averaging 16.0 points, 7.3 assists and 0.7 turnovers per game...Averaged a team-high 20.8 points, shooting 50 percent from the floor (28 for 56), 50 percent from three-point range (9 for 18) and 76.5 percent from the free throw line (39 for 51), and had a remarkable 34 assists, seven turnovers and 16 steals in five games in the 2009 NCAA Tournament, as he produced an assist-error ratio of 4.86 in the five games. He led the Carolina offense that shot 48.1 percent from the floor and 45.7 percent from 3-point range in the 2009 NCAA Tournament and averaged 87.8 points a game...The Tar Heels won each game by double figures and had a scoring margin of 20.1 points a game. Lawson had 43 points (21.5), 14 assists (7.0), five turnovers (2.5) and 10 steals (5.0) in the two Final Four games in Detroit, as he made 25 of 35 free throws. His eight steals broke the title game record of seven by Tommy Amaker in 1986 and Oklahoma's Mookie Blaylock vs. Kansas in 1988
2007-08 SEASON All-Atlantic Coast Conference honorable mention...NABC All-District V first-team choice... Added NCAA East Regional All-Tournament Team...Started 29-of-32 games he played in, missing six contests in February after suffering a high left ankle sprain in overtime vs. Florida State (2/03)...Scored 406 points (12.7 points per game) on 51.5% shooting from the field (140-of-272) and 83.5% from the foul line (96-of-115)...Made 36.1% of his 3-point attempts (30-of-83) and grabbed 87 rebounds (2.7 rpg)...Had 51 steals (1.6 steals per game) and 165 assists (5.2 assists per game)...Produced an assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.36 (165 assists, 70 turnovers)...Scored in double figures 23 times, including four 20-point performances.
2006-07 SEASON Atlantic Coast Conference All-Rookie team selection...Started 31-of-38 games for the Tar Heels, averaging 10.2 points per game (388 total), as he made 141-of-282 field goals, 75-of-109 free throws (68.8%) and 31-of-87 three pointers (35.6%)...Pulled down 112 rebounds and had 58 steals (1.5 steals per game)...Led the ACC in assist-turnover ratio (2.57 to 1) and was third in assists per game (5.6)...Had more assists than turnovers 32 times (16 straight to end the year; also had 13 straight in another stretch)...Led the team with 213 assists, tied for ninth-best on the UNC season-record list...Produced 101 assists and 29 turnovers in the last 16 games (3.48 to 1 ratio)...Generated 45 assists and 13 turnovers in seven postseason games...Scored in double figures 22 times with two 20-point performances.
2006-7 SEASON ANALYSIS Made his first start as a Tar Heel vs. Ohio State and had five assists and no turnovers to go along with 13 points in the win over the Buckeyes...Handed out seven assists vs. Kentucky...Had 11 points, eight assists and four steals and helped UNC shoot 66.1 percent from the floor vs. Florida Atlantic...Added 12 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in win at Saint Louis...Posted nine assists and zero turnovers vs. Rutgers...Played only 19 minutes vs. Dayton after suffering a fall on a drive to the basket on which he bruised his right wrist...Matched his season high with four steals vs. Florida State...Scored 16 points and added six assists, four turnovers and three steals in loss at Virginia Tech...Had 10 points and four assists in the final four minutes as UNC rallied from 20 down to within three...Scored all 15 of his points in the second half of the win at Wake Forest, as he added five assists and three steals...Played one of his finest games in the 92-64 win at Arizona, as he tallied 18 points and had eight assists, just one turnover and four steals (matched season high) while helping force Arizona senior guard Mustafa Shakur into eight turnovers, making a season-high eight field goals to help Carolina shoot 56.8 percent in the second half and 51.3 for the game...Hit a season-high three 3-pointers and had 13 points and three assists vs. Miami...Scored a season-high 21 points, had seven assists and one turnover in loss at North Carolina State...Had 15 points, eight rebounds and four assists in win at Duke, scoring 11 of his 15 points in the second half, including nine in the last 5:52, as his jumper tied the game with 5:52 to play, driving lay-up and three-point play gave UNC a seven-point lead with 1:46 left, lefty lay-up in traffic at 0:46 upped the lead back to four and two free throws with five seconds to play were the final points of the game...Added 13 points, five assists and one turnover in a home loss to Virginia Tech, as he had shots to win at end of regulation and overtime, but missed a 3-pointer to end the second half and had his drive blocked from behind at the end of OT...Totaled 13 points, six rebounds and seven assists in a win at Boston College...Helped Carolina shoot 51.9 percent, as he tied his season high with nine assists at Maryland...Added 12 points, five assists and just one turnover in home win over Duke, helping Carolina shoot 50 percent from the field...In the ACC Tournament, Lawson earned first-team all-tournament honors after scoring 12.3 points per game, with 20 assists and four turnovers and helping UNC shoot 52.7 percent from the floor in the three wins...Had 14 points, eight assists and three steals vs. Florida State, 10 points and eight assists vs. Boston College and 13 points, four assists in final vs. NC State...Helped limit Boston College guard Tyrese Rice to 1 of 9 shooting, a day after Rice scored 32 points in the quarterfinals...In the NCAA Tournament, Lawson averaged 16 points, 4.5 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 1.5 turnovers in the first two rounds...Had 20 points with eight assists and one turnover vs. Michigan State, as he helped UNC score 81 points, tops vs. the Spartans, adding six assists and no turnovers in the first half as UNC built an eight-point edge...Added four points, seven rebounds, four assists, one turnover and three steals vs. Southern California, but picked up two fouls in the first half that limited his aggressive play, as he equaled his second-lowest scoring output of the year and fewest since he had two at Clemson on 1/17...Had six assists and five turnovers vs. Georgetown (as many turnovers as he had in previous four games combined).
CAREER NOTES In 105 games at North Carolina, Lawson started 95 contests, scoring 1,375 points (fourth-highest total by a UNC point guard, good for 13.1 points per game) on 463-of-896 field goals (51.7%), 112-of-278 3-pointers (40.3%) and 337-of-432 free throws (78.0%)...Had 303 rebounds (2.9 rebounds) with 184 steals (1.8 steals per game)...His average assist-to-turnover ratio of 2.78 is the best on the school career-record list and his ratio of 2.57 in 2006-07 was the second-best season average in Tar Heel annals, topped by the 2.72 mark of King Rice (1990-91; 207 assists, 76 turnovers)...Had 230 assists and only 66 turnovers, a record-setting assist-error ratio of 3.49 in 2008-09 that is the best season assist/error ratio in ACC history (previous UNC record 2.98 by Jeff Lebo in 1986; previous ACC record of 3.35 by Sidney Lowe of North Carolina State (1980-83)...His 608 assists rank seventh all-time at UNC and his average of 5.8 assists per game rank fifth on the school career-record list behind Ed Cota (7.5 assists per game, 1996-2000, third-best in ACC history), Raymond Felton (6.9 assists per game, 2002-05 (seventh-best in ACC history), Phil Ford (6.1 assists per game, 1974-78) and Kenny Smith (6.1 assists per game, 1983-87)...His 213 assists in 2006-07 tied Jimmy Black (1981-82) and Raymond Felton (2003-04) for tenth on the school season-record list and his 320 assists in 2008-09 rank eighth on UNC's annual record chart...Had more assists than turnovers in 88 of 105 games, including 32 of 35 as a junior...Handed out eleven or more assists in five games (career-high 11 in 2008-09 vs. Notre Dame and Georgia Tech)...Earned All-American first-team honors in 2008-09, becoming North Carolina's first point guard to accomplish that feat since Kenny Smith was a first-team pick by the Associated Press in 1986-87...UNC went 39-3 when Lawson handed out seven or more assists (16-0 in 2008-09)...Scored in double figures 79 times in his career, including 17 games with at least 20 points...In the 2009 NCAA Tournament, Lawson set the Final Four two-game record for most free throws made (previous 24 by Cincinnati's Oscar Robertson in 1959 and UCLA's Gail Goodrich in 1965) and free throw attempts (previous 32 by West Virginia's Jerry West in 1959)...Tied the Final Four two-game record for most steals with 10 (also by Duke's Tommy Amaker in 1986).
HIGH SCHOOL Attended Bishop McNamara (Forestville, Md.) High School for his first two years before transferring to Oak Hill (Va.) Academy, playing basketball for head coach Steve Smith...First-team All-American selection by USA Today, Parade and McDonald's during his senior year, adding team MVP honors...That season, Lawson led Oak Hill to a 42-1 record (won their first 42 games), as he averaged 23.8 points, 9.1 assists and five steals in 2006...Shot 63 percent from the floor, including 42 percent from 3-point range, as he had a season-high 37 points, one of nine games in which he scored 30 or more...Also had a season-high 18 assists and produced double-digit assists 18 times...Also lettered in soccer once at Oak Hill Academy.
INJURY REPORT 2006-07: Missed a good portion of the Dayton game (12/31/06) with a right wrist bruise.
2007-08: Sat out most of the Brigham Young game (11/24/07) with a right ankle sprain...Suffered a high left ankle sprain vs. Florida State (2/03/08), missing the next six games vs. Duke (2/06), Clemson (2/10), Virginia (2/12), Virginia Tech (2/16), North Carolina State (2/20) and Wake Forest (2/21)...Re-injured his left ankle vs. Louisville (3/29/08).
2008-09: Played vs. Miami (2/15) with flu-like symptoms...Sat out the Virginia Tech (3/13), Florida State (3/14) and Radford (3/19) contests after jamming his right toe vs. Duke. He played 36 minutes vs. the Blue Devils, despite a painful turf toe type of injury to his right big toe that caused him to miss most of practice two days before and all of practice the day before the game. He wore an oversized shoe and steel plate in the shoe to protect his toe. In practice on March 6, Lawson ran into the basket support, re-injuring his toe.
OTHER TOURNAMENTS/TEAMS SUMMER: Lawson earned Most Valuable Player honors at the World Juniors Tournament in France in June 2005...Participated in the 2006 McDonald's All-Star Game and Jordan Classic, as he also scored 17 points with six assists in the Nike Hoop Summit.
PERSONAL Exercise and Sports Science major...Son of Jackie and George Lawson...Born Tywon Ronell Lawson on 11/03/87 in Clinton, Maryland...Resides in Clinton, Maryland.
SCOUTING REPORT Positives: Lawson might lack height and the arm length to disrupt as an on-ball defender, but makes up for with good vertical jumping ability and strength...Has good quickness on the open floor and fast-break success usually comes with Lawson pushing the ball up the court...Has the explosive initial step to separate and maintains his speed attack the basket coming off the dribble...Uses his quickness on the drive-and-dish...Patient and will not force the issue...Is very conscious of ball distribution...Does a good job of finishing at the rim and few college guards had the quickness to keep up with Lawson...Lacks great length, but his hand quickness and court vision create steals. His hand speed disrupts post-entry passes...Keeps the defense on their toes with his incredible ability to slice through traffic at a high rate of speed...Even playing at that high speed, he is not turnover prone, doing a good job of protecting the dribble from stabbers ...Many experts consider him to have the best court quickness of any player in college...Has good lateral agility and speed moving on the floor, but is not the type that will get reckless with the ball in his hands, showing good basketball IQ and vision to know when to slow down the tempo of the game...His speed is evident by the way he gets down the court and keeps everybody involved in the transition game with crisp outlet passes...Has improved his release and elbow bend at the foul line, improving his free throw shooting rate from 68.8 percent as a freshman to 83.5% as a sophomore and finished his career with 78 percent free throws made...Makes some highlight reel passes to an open outlet when on the move, as he has tremendous awareness of his surroundings and a feel for where his teammates are, as he has the passing precision to hit the open man on the fly or with a crisp bounce pass...Gets good elevation and sets his feet well when suddenly pulling up for a jumper...Maintains balance and shows good body control when going to the air on his route to the rim...Needs to improve perimeter shot but was effective scoring near the basket...Can score in transition and defenders struggle to stop him in transition thanks to his quickness...Will be punished often driving through traffic, but uses his strength to draw contact and can finish with touch at the basket...Savvy court general who can distribute the ball vs. double teams and is very tough for slower press defenses to handle...Has a sudden burst to fly past an opponent rotating to him, utilizing a very deceptive hesitation move...Adequate rebounder can take the ball off the defensive board, turn around and ignite the fast break by taking the ball downcourt in an instant...More of a pest on defense than one who will physically maul an opponent, compensating for a lack of size with good lateral agility, quick hands and foot speed to stay in front of the shooter to prevent a clean release...Prevents slashers from getting into the lane coming off the perimeter...Has one of the best assist-to-turnover ratios of any point guard in this draft at 2.78; 608 assists-to-219 turnovers.
Negatives: Compensates for a lack of height with strength and exceptional court quickness, but his shot will be blocked easily by NBA defenders, especially from the perimeter...Doesn't have a high release point or get his shots off quick enough...Needs to refine his release and generally looks like he is shot-putting the ball up...Might not be able to log extended minutes in the NBA as he goes full-out ...When he wears down, he can get out of control on the court and will try to force the action, resulting in ill-advised passes into traffic or poor shot selection, taking off-kilter shots with a defender in his face or over-penetrating vs. a stationary defender, resulting in charging fouls...Needs to check the measurement chart, as 5-foot-11 guards are not supposed to drive through traffic and take on multiple defenders...Has good strength but lacks bulk and will struggle handling screens...Has very poor wingspan and big guards will shoot over him with ease and post him up to minimize his quickness advantage...Good ball handler and passer, but lacks creativity when it comes to his own shot selection...Not confident in his perimeter shooting and is much more comfortable scoring in transition and needs to improve his mid-range game...Has marginal shooting mechanics, getting poor elevation on his mid-range shot and because of his lack of size, he needs a lot of space to get a clean shot off...His inconsistent shooting is a result of a flat-footed release...Struggles to create his shot coming off the dribble, especially when from long range...When his feet are set, his shot comes off with good spin and trajectory, but he tends to push the ball...Struggles in the pick-and-roll, as defenses have had great success going through screens to push him back and force him to take off-balanced shots.
Compares To: RAYMOND FELTON, Charlotte -- Like the former Tar Heel, Lawson is blessed with incredible court quickness and good strength for a point guard. However, he lacks the size and length to be much more than a pest on defense. He is perhaps the quickest player in this draft and excels pushing the ball upcourt on the fast break, causing defensive breakdowns with his ability to take the ball off the defensive glass and drive to the opposite end. He has a sweet hesitation move to get the defender to commit too early and slower defenders struggle to mirror him when he is weaving through traffic. He is more comfortable passing on the move than when double-teamed, but despite a lack of length, he is very effective getting his hands into passing lanes for steals. He has poor mid-range shooting ability and lacks confidence in his perimeter shooting, mostly due to his low release point and the fact that he takes an eternity to get shots off. He needs total mechanical refinement in his shooting technique, a shot-put 3-pointer, and just fires the ball out from under his chin while standing flat-footed. He tries to do too much and plays at a high speed, making him a liability on the court for long stretches. In the right system, he can be more of a change-of-pace type off the bench with some value.