When you look at Pat Lawless, “basketball” isn’t the first thing that comes to mind.
But it should be. The Seton Hall sophomore has gone from running a small blog he started his junior year of high school to being recognized as an NCAA certified scout. He works for a site called MADEHoops.
Lawless also supplies a yearly scouting service to mid and low-major Division I basketball programs. He scouts high school and AAU players across the country year-round, and schools pay for his insight. He writes about four to six pages on certain players he feels are college-worthy, and will do so for a handful of players each event, game or tournament.
How does a teenage kid from Glen Rock, N.J., go from a high school hoopster who loved the game to a major player in the recruiting world?
“I just kept expanding, going to events and gaining more exposure,” he said. “I met some good people that helped me along the way, too.”
Most players probably tower over scouts. Most scouts tower over the 5-foot, 8-inch Lawless, though.
He is still young, but his intellect is on-par with others in the business. If it was not, D-1 teams would not pay for his take.
Still, due to his size, he often gets what he calls “some looks.” “Definitely. It was tough at first,” he said. “You know, this small kid interviewing players after games. But it’s gotten better. Even now, with being young, it’s sometimes still, ‘Who is that kid?’”
Lawless said he often talks to players on the phone before games or events, so they already have an established connection. Some are still caught off-guard when they meet him, though.
“They definitely are,” he said with a laugh. “Players can be a bit shocked.”
AAU tournaments are often hectic. The more high-profile the event, the more coverage there is, too. Lawless tries to simplify things.
“Beforehand, you look at the schedule, identify teams you want to check out and then go from there. I try to gather a lot of notes in addition to interviewing to get a good understanding of that player’s game.”
Though there are some restrictions, he also deals with friends, parents, teammates and coaches. He makes sure not to relay any messages from that last group, too. He is a scout, not a recruiter after all.
Having been in the business five years now, Lawless said he has had his fair share of swings and misses. Sometimes players he praises go on to struggle at the next level. More often, though, they thrive.
Karl-Antony Towns is the latest example.
Towns attended St. Joseph’s high school in Edison, N.J., which gave Lawless plenty of chances to watch him play. After a standout year at Kentucky, KAT was selected by the Minnesota Timberwolves with the first pick of the 2015 draft.
“I obviously wasn’t the first one to discover him or anything, but I went with my gut on Karl Towns. Early on, it was obvious seeing him his freshman year. He was so skilled. I knew right away he was going to be something special. He’s one of the first guys that has definitely stood out.”
Lawless said that one of his favorite parts of the gig is helping gain exposure for deserving, yet unheralded players. That is the type of power that comes with a growing brand like the one Lawless is building.
Down the line, he wants to head an NBA scouting department. But right now, Lawless loves what he does—despite the headaches traveling and scouting can sometimes cause with a pesky thing called school. He said he is still learning to balance his hectic, hoops-driven schedule.
But when he boils it down, it’s simple.
“I just love basketball,” he said. “Having an excuse to just go to some games for a weekend, it’s awesome.”
Thomas Duffy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @TJDHoops.