The news of Gani Lawal's intended departure for the pros has the Georgia Tech ranks somewhat divided. Some of you Yellow Jackets fans are riled up, mad that yet another recent star is hoping to bolt for the NBA, and leaving the team hanging dry. Likewise, some of you are tagging blogs and polls saying, 'I told you so,' glad to know that your suspicions were correct, but pessimistically saying goodbye to the forward.
But the news that Lawal isn't hiring an agent, and may still come back to the team (that is, if he drops his name from consideration by June 15), is promising. He just wants to use the next few months as a gauge to see just how well he can fare among NBA scouts, and if it can raise his current low-first-round draft projection.
Take it how you may, Jackets fans, but here are some extra comments from Lawal that may raise your optimism, or increase your pessimism:
Gani Lawal, F, Soph., 6'9
"I feel I'm talented and ready -- the talent's obviously there -- so I just wanted to go through the interview process. ... I intend to put my name in the draft and go through the interview and workout process to see where I might fit in. I want to keep my options for staying at Tech, but I think it's important to gather all the necessary information."
(On whether his draft projections will keep him at Tech): "I'm still working towards that. Obviously I want to go high, but I’m still working towards that, I haven’t really narrowed it down quite yet."
(On when he began considering the draft): "I thought about it some during the season, but not a lot because I had to focus on the game and play. That made it kind of hard because everyone wanted to know, but after the season ended back in March, I really did some thinking to see if I really wanted to do it or not."
(On Hewitt's support): "He's just been 100 percent supportive of me and everything I've done since I've made this decision, so he's been real supportive. ... He's just told me to be careful and be mindful (of people), and he just gave me some kind of housecleaning notes to take care of through this."
(On Tech fans' support): "I've kind of run kind of run into some Tech people at Wal-Mart or at the gas station and they say, 'Hey, Gani, come back one more year!' Other than that, everybody's been very supportive.
(On viewing this as a win-win): "I’ve said that to myself. It’ll be a win-win. If I do well, get good feedback and stay in the draft and start my professional career, and live out a dream. But if I do come back, I’m coming into an ideal situation. I loved my experience here, my two years here -- I wish we could have had more wins last year -- but I like my coaches, like my teammates, I think we have a good recruiting class coming in, but it’s great. All positives. ... We've got a talented group of guys coming in. It’s going to be a great season regardless if I come back or not."
"The ego side of is like, 'man, we ended 2-14 (in the conference), we had an early exit in the (ACC) tournament.' You kind of want to get that NCAA Tournament run, but another part of me says hey, I want to test the waters and see where I go with this thing."
(On whether he wanted to wait on Derrick Favors' signing): "I really was just taking my time as far as my decision, Derrick’s decision did not have an impact on my decision."
(On which NBA players remind Lawal of his play): "I'd say Al Horford. We're both energetic, active, run the floor well. Along with Amar'e Stoudemire. My explosiveness and how powerful he is; he's long and athletic. And his mid-range game. I still have a ways to go as far as my footwork and my polishment around the basket."
(On dad wanting him to stay): "My dad, he supports everything I do 100 percent. We may not agree on necessarily everything, that’s a mom and dad relationship. But at the end of the day, he’s going to support everything I do. He’s going to be behind me 100 percent. The thing is, he hasn’t been very adamant. He’s told me his opinion, but told me, whatever you do, he’s going to support me regardless."
(On whether former early-departing Jackets talked to him): "Yes, I've talked to Jarrett Jack (current Indiana Pacers guard, left after junior year at Tech) maybe two or three times. He's pretty much done the same thing. He's told me that whatever factors you have set up, or whatever things that you are looking for that will keep you or make you stay, then just keep those in front of you. He said just gather info and go from there and make a smart decision. At the end of the day, you've got to do this for yourself. Not mom, not dad, not Coach, not teammates, it's for you, Gani Lawal. So do the best thing possible for him."
(On would he declare had last season gone better): "It would have been the same. At the end of the season, I would have had to consider my options. I think I would have done the same thing. ... I thought about it a little bit during the season, because I had to, because people kept bringing it up. But after the season, I pretty much would have done the same thing."
(On teammates' support): "They were kind of surprised. Some of them figured, some of them were like thrown off a little bit. But when I told them, they were supportive."