Lawson, the head coach at Hamilton High in Memphis from 2003 through last season, is the last coach to lead a city school to a state title while going unbeaten in the largest classification. Lawson, who played at UAB and LeMoyne-Owen, also spoke to at least two other schools, including Vanderbilt, about potentially joining their coaching staffs, sources said.
"I'm thrilled and grateful for this opportunity," Lawson said in the statement announcing his hiring. "I'm looking forward to working with Coach Pastner and his staff to help carry on the great tradition of Tigers basketball."
He is the father of three heralded recruits. The oldest, K.J. Lawson, is a 6-foot-7 wing ranked 37th in the country by ESPN.com. He has committed to play at Memphis.
Dedric Lawson is a 6-8 power forward in the Class of 2016 who is ranked seventh in the country by ESPN.com. Chandler Lawson is a 6-6 wing who is ranked No. 1 overall in the Class of 2019 by one recruiting site. Jonathan Lawson is a sixth grader who one coach said "may be the best of all of the brothers."
The family is also related to current Memphis assistant Robert Kirby.
Dedric Lawson recently told CBSSports.com, which initially reported the possibility of Pastner hiring Lawson, that he likely would commit to Memphis if his father joins the Tigers' staff. He is also strongly considering Kentucky.
"That would probably seal the deal for me, to commit to Memphis," Dedric told CBSSports.com last week at the LeBron James Skills Academy in Las Vegas.
This wouldn't be the first time a father with ties to a recruit was hired.
Larry Brown hired Ed Manning at Kansas prior to locking up Danny Manning, and Bill Self hired Ronnie Chalmers for his Jayhawks staff a few years ago to help secure Mario Chalmers.
Recently, Texas A&M hired John Reese to help lure J-Mychal Reese, who recently left the school and transferred to North Texas.
Lawson replaces Jason Gardner, who left in April to become the head coach at IUPUI.
"We're excited about Keelon joining our staff," Pastner said in the statement. "Keelon is a great fit for our program. We welcome Keelon to the Tigers basketball family."