This series will be reviewing every player who played for the Ducks in the 2019-20 season and is returning for 2020-21, as well as covering what to look forward to from next season’s roster.
Key Stats: 4.5 ppg, 3.9 rbg, 51.9% FG
Chandler Lawson has been bucking conventional wisdom ever since he was a senior in his hometown of Memphis Tennessee. Instead of choosing to play in his backyard at the University of Memphis, where both his older brothers, KJ and Dedric Lawson started their college careers, or going to Kansas, where KJ and Dedric transferred to, Chandler chose the Ducks. He chose to play in the Pacific Northwest despite holding offers from other schools closer to home such as Florida, Ole Miss and Baylor. He also chose to buck conventional wisdom by showing that a combo forward can be productive without much semblance of any outside shooting ability. And he will continue to do so.
The only freshman to appear in all 31 contests (12 starts) for the Ducks, Lawson established himself as a key role player through his combination of hustle and athleticism. It is this style of play that earned him his first start in the double OT win over USC on Jan. 23rd, where he scored 9 points and grabbed 5 rebounds, while playing a whopping 45 minutes, only one minute less than Payton Pritchard and Chris Duarte. But the game that really put Lawson on the map this year wasn’t the game against USC. It was the comeback win against the Huskies. Lawson recorded his first double-double of the year and acted as a reliable outlet when the Oregon guards were trying to fight through Washington’s zone defense. Chandler was also the best defender for the Ducks in that win, even if the box score didn’t show it (a combined 0 steals and blocks).
Offensively, Chandler is fairly limited for now, but has all the talent and athleticism needed to improve. Most of his offensive contributions came as a finisher on rebounds or dump-off passes, as well as the occasional straight line drive to the basket. Jump shots were few and far between, but as his role and playing time expand, it wouldn’t be unusual to see him take more chances and grow his offensive repertoire. Multi-position forwards who don’t shoot the three are rare in this day and age, but his athleticism alone should impress enough to avoid the “dinosaur” label. His per game numbers didn’t blow anyone away, but when you look at his Per 100 possessions numbers, he averaged a very respectable 14 points, 4 assists and 12 rebounds.
Defensively is where Lawson’s greatest potential lies. As a combo-forward, he has all the tools to guard multiple positions on the court, as we saw in limited doses this year. His length and size can give opponents fits and when he’s dialed in, is incredibly hard to get by. The biggest key to his defensive improvement is staying dialed in on the defensive end, as there were a few times last season that he would lose focus and get beaten by his man. Lawson could have the potential to be a defensive anchor for the Ducks moving forward, given enough time and opportunity.
What to expect in 2020-21
Whether it’s in the starting lineup or as the first big off the bench, expect Lawson to build on his solid freshman debut. Any kind of development as a shot maker on offense or a shot blocker on defense would be welcome additions to his game. With Francis Okoro transferring to St. Louis, the Ducks have a hole in their defense for a shot-swatter, and Lawson has the chance to fill that hole. His route to college basketball may have been unconventional compared to his brothers, but Lawson has the chance to have a special career at Oregon.
All stats provided by Sport Reference