WKU Men’s Basketball: Thompson, Lawson to compete in NBA Summer League

BOWLING GREEN, Ky. Former WKU Hilltopper Basketball standouts Darius Thompson and Ben Lawson will begin participating next week in the MGM Resorts NBA Summer League.

Thompson, a 6-foot-4 guard who competed for WKU as a graduate transfer in the 2017-18 season, will be on the summer league roster for the recently crowned NBA champion Toronto Raptors.

Lawson, a 7-1 center who played for the Hilltoppers from 2013-17, will play for the Memphis Grizzlies’ squad.

The 15th NBA Summer League will take place July 5-15 at the Thomas & Mack Center and Cox Pavilion on the campus of UNLV.

NBA Summer League 2019 will be an 11-day, 83-game competition that opens with all 32 teams (including two international squads) playing four preliminary games each. The top eight teams are then seeded in a tournament, which culminates with a championship game on July 15. Teams that do not qualify for the tournament will each play a consolation game. Every team will play at least five games and as many as seven.

Thompson and Toronto will open the preliminary round at 11 p.m. (all times central) Saturday, July 6 against the Golden State Warriors (ESPN). The Raptors will also face the Milwaukee Bucks at 6 p.m. July 8 (ESPNU), the New York Knicks at 8:30 p.m. July 9 (NBA TV) and the Indiana Pacers at 5 p.m. July 11 (NBA TV).

Toronto’s full summer league schedule can be found here: https://goto.ps/2Nimnmc

Lawson and Memphis will play their first game against the Indiana Pacers at 6 p.m. July 6. That game will air on NBA TV. The Grizzlies will also play the Los Angeles Clippers at 10:30 p.m. July 7 (ESPN2), the Phoenix Suns at 6:30 p.m. July 9 (NBA TV) and the Boston Celtics at 9:30 p.m. July 11 (ESPN2).

Lawson will also play for Memphis in the Salt Lake City Summer League on July 1-3. The six-game event hosted by the Utah Jazz will feature the Grizzlies, Jazz, San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers in a round-robin summer showcase.

Memphis’ full summer league schedule can be found here: https://goto.ps/2xhxPnd

In his one season at WKU, Thompson averaged 13.6 points, 4.8 assists and 4.2 rebounds for WKU, while netting a team-high 54 made 3-pointers. He was also named to the All-Conference USA Second Team as the Hilltoppers won 27 games and advanced to the NIT Final Four.

He set a new program record for most minutes played in a season with 1,354, tied for the most games started in a season in WKU history and finished with the fourth-most assists in a single season (181).

Thompson’s most memorable accomplishment came at Marshall on Jan. 6, when he recorded the second triple-double in Hilltopper history with 33 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.

He spent his first season of pro ball with ZZ Leiden in the Netherlands, where he was named Most Valuable Player in the Dutch Basketball League, averaging 19 points, 5.4 assists and 4.1 rebounds per game. He was also a top-three finalist for MVP of the FIBA Europe Cup, averaging 22.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 3.9 assists.

Lawson competed for WKU from 2013-17 and finished his career fourth on WKU’s all-time list for total blocks with 185. He averaged 5.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.7 blocks as a senior.

His pro game soared this past season with Japan’s Fukuoka Rizing, where he averaged 15 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game.

Thompson and Lawson mark three Hilltoppers who have competed in the NBA Summer League in the last two seasons. Dwight Coleby, who played with Thompson at WKU as a graduate transfer in 2017-18, competed last year with the New Orleans Pelicans.