UNC Basketball: Former Tar Heel finds new home in Greece

Former UNC basketball standout Ty Lawson has signed a new deal to play for Kolossos Rhodes in the Greek Basket League.

Former North Carolina basketball star Ty Lawson is set to continue his playing career in Greece, agreeing to terms on a contract with Kolossos H Hotels, a Greek professional basketball team located on the island of Rhodes, in Rhodes City. This marks the second time in six months that Lawson has committed to play for Kolossos, but he was unable to join the organization because he was not allowed to leave China for several months, he claims.

“I was trying to come to Kolossos but China would not let me out of the country for four or five months,” Lawson told EuroHoops in May. “I have been trying the visa, work visas, it was a long process. I wanted to come and play. I am here now, so I might go visit Kolossos, Rhodes, see how it is while I am here.”

The aforementioned detainment followed a September 2020 incident that resulted in his lifetime ban from the Chinese Basketball Association. He was eventually cleared to leave, and traveled to Greece as a free agent. After making things official with Kolossos, Lawson is back under contract for the first time since his stint with the Fujian Sturgeons of the CBA, when he averaged an outstanding 27.3 points, 8.7 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game.

Lawson, who will turn 34 years old in November, played for four teams over an eight-year span in the National Basketball Association. The six years that he spent with the Denver Nuggets from 2009 to 2015 were the highlight of career cut short by off-court issues, including a long and very public battle with alcoholism.

Lawson played for three different teams over the final three years of his NBA career. And after largely unsuccessful runs with the Rockets, Pacers and Kings, respectively, and a five-game stretch for the Washington Wizards in the 2018 NBA Playoffs, Lawson hasn’t played a single minute of professional hoops stateside. In the years since, he’s continued to find opportunities to play professionally overseas.

Lawson was a consensus second team All-American and an NCAA Tournament champion in 2009. He was also named ACC Player of the Year that season, and took home the Bob Cousy Award for being the nation’s top college point guard. He averaged 13.1 points, 5.8 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game in three seasons with the Tar Heels. He left an indelible mark on the UNC basketball program, and his No. 5 jersey is honored in the Dean Smith Center rafters to this day as a result.

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