The Phoenix Suns have signed Gani Lawal (GONN-ee luh-WALL), the 46th overall selection (second round) in the 2010 NBA Draft, the team announced today.
A three-year standout at Georgia Tech, Lawal was named to the All-Atlantic Coast Conference Third Team in both his sophomore and junior seasons after leading his team in both scoring and rebounding in each campaign.
The 6-foot-9, 234-pound forward is an athletic and productive rebounder who averaged 14.0 points and 8.9 rebounds in 67 games (66 starts) over his final two collegiate seasons.
An able finisher around the basket, Lawal shot 54.8 percent from the field for his career and averaged 6.0 free-throw attempts in his sophomore and junior seasons.
In his final collegiate season in 2009-10, the 21-year-old Lawal averaged 13.1 points and 8.5 boards, both team-bests, while playing in the frontcourt alongside Derrick Favors, who was selected No. 3 overall in the 2010 draft by the New Jersey Nets.
Lawal finished his career with 27 double-doubles overall, second-most among active ACC players. He grabbed 3.6 offensive rebounds as a sophomore in 2008-09, tops in the ACC.
Lawal became the 18th early entry selection in franchise history and the third Georgia Tech product selected by the Suns, joining Bruce Dalrymple (46th overall, 1987) and Malcom Mackey (27th overall, 1993).
Lawal made his Suns debut in the 2010 Las Vegas Summer League where he was selected to the All-Tournament Team after averaging team-highs of 15.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.0 blocks. He shot 49.2 percent from field and earned 41 free-throw attempts, most of any summer Sun.
hope to see him develop into a solid double double guy for us.. what do you guys think? could he be the next Okafur? He'll never have to live up to being the second pick of the first round not a lot of pressure for him.
Lon Babby President of PHXSUNS basketball operations on Lawal and why he got a guaranteed contract:
The life of a second-round pick offers no guarantees. However, Suns second-round selection Gani Lawal now has one from Phoenix.
The Suns inked the rookie forward out of Georgia Tech to a three-year deal Sunday, with the first season being completely guaranteed and the remaining two years being partially guaranteed. Since only first-round picks are assured guaranteed deals by the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, the move signifies how impressed the Suns are with Lawal’s talents.
“He plays hard, rebounds extremely well, has a lot of athletic ability and he’s really explosive,” Suns assistant coach Dan Majerle said. “If he keeps working, he’ll be hard to handle in the block. He just has to learn how to play in this league, get into better shape and become more polished offensively.”
The 6-9 power forward led Phoenix in scoring, rebounding and blocks at the NBA Las Vegas Summer League last month. The former McDonald’s All-American also led Georgia Tech in scoring and rebounding the past two seasons.
The signing of Lawal allows the Suns to retain his rights, while giving the organization the opportunity to monitor his progress. By holding his rights, Lawal will be a restricted agent at the end of his contract, allowing the Suns a better opportunity to re-sign him at the conclusion of the deal.
“If he’s as good as we hope he’s going to be it would be difficult to keep him if we don’t retain his rights,” President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said. “It works to our advantage and it also allows us to make an investment in him, in both time and energy. We can be assured that if he wanted to be, and we hope he will be, he could be a Phoenix Sun for a long time.”
The move brings the Suns’ roster to 12 guaranteed spots with training camp set to tip off at the end of September. Phoenix is permitted by the league to carry as many as 15 players.
With the departure of power forward Amar’e Stoudemire, the Suns have now bolstered their frontcourt by the acquisitions of Hedo Turkoglu and Hakim Warrick, as well as the signing of Lawal. Named to the All-ACC Third Team in both his sophomore and junior seasons, the 46th overall selection in the 2010 NBA Draft ranked third in the ACC in rebounding while also leading the ACC in double-doubles and 10-rebound games during his sophomore season.
Lawal continued to lead Georgia Tech in scoring and rebounding his junior year, despite playing alongside the No. 3 overall pick in the 2010 Draft, Derrick Favors. The Suns’ newest forward is also ranked sixth all-time in blocks in Georgia Tech history.
“I love his energy level and I love the rebounding and the shotblocking that he brought to the table out (in Las Vegas),” Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry said. “I think you’ll see him improve more and more as he learns the pro game.”
Officially, Gani Lawal went to the Suns as the June draft's 46th overall pick, midway through the second round.
But Lawal is being treated like a first-round choice. The NBA invited him to be one of the rookies who come early next week to the rookie transition program to be part of a photo shoot and autograph session normally comprised of first-rounders. The Suns signed him to a three-year contract with the first season fully guaranteed even though second-round draft choices normally get little or no guaranteed money.
"I was so excited," Lawal said of his signing. "My hand was shaking. I was nervous. I kept the pen.
"I was excited about that. It just goes to show how much they like me, how much they are willing to invest in me."
That has not changed the way Lawal works. One of his most attractive attributes to the Suns was the Georgia Tech power forward's work ethic. He showed it this week, coming in daily for weight room and court workouts when most of the Suns won't come to voluntary workouts until next month. Matt Janning, Earl Clark and Robin Lopez also were in for some workouts this week. Last week, Lawal participated in former Suns assistant Tim Grgurich's skills development camp in Las Vegas and went against other NBA big men, like Jason Thompson and Hilton Armstrong.
"I'm just going to come in here and work hard every day and prove them right," Lawal said. "I was going to work hard regardless. Whatever they give me, I feel like I'm going to stick around on this team and contribute. I'm going to bust it every day.
"This is a first-class organization. I love the coaching staff. This is a place I can see myself doing great things. I'd like to be here and I think they'd like to have me here so it's a perfect marriage."
Lawal already has made the Valley home, moving in to his new place in Tempe on Thursday.
He is getting accustomed to a new workout with the Suns athletic training staff, focusing more on core exercises and balance than he had previously. The Suns feel there is still some untapped athleticism in Lawal.
"It's something I'll work at and get better and better every day," Lawal said. "I think I can jump out of the gym now. Working out with these guys, I'll be able to jump to the moon."
Good for Lawal, hopefully he can play like a (good) first rounder. Also like that EC and RL were doing drills before mandatory workouts.