NCB On The Trail: JaQuan Lyle
As the only four remaining uncommitted prospects in the ESPN 100, No. 2 Myles Turner (Bedford, Texas/Trinity), No. 41 JaQuan Lyle (Evansville, Ind./Huntington Prep), No. 69 Anas Osama Mahmoud (Orlando, Fla./West Oaks Academy) and No. 99 Josh Cunningham (Chicago/Morgan Park) are all marked men these days as a variety of programs battle it out for these recruits.
There is no shortage of options for the four, but as we get closer to the late signing period, their decisions will ultimately impact a variety of other programs that will be left scattering for any leftovers in a depleted list of still-available prospects.
With that in mind, we asked our team of RecruitingNation experts to predict where each of these four will ultimately end up:
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Let’s take a look at the latest on his recruitment, how his game has grown and what he can do to reach his potential.
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@PaulBiancardi why did @QuentinSnider4 and @JMamba5 drop?? #AskCoachBPlayers move up and down with each new ranking. Quentin Snider went from No. 35 to No. 39, and JaQuan Lyle went from No. 39 to No. 41. Those are not significant drops at all. Both have played well and, at times, they have made big plays, but neither have stood out enough to move up.
— Kwame Boakye (@Kwamdog12) February 3, 2014
On the flip side, when prospects drop, it can be more about others playing a at high level on a more consistent basis, which was true for both Snider and Lyle.
Remember, the best way for a prospect to move up is with consistent productivity and dominant performances. It also helps if they play big roles in their teams' wins.
The top three undeclared seniors are Myles Turner, Rashad Vaughn and JaQuan Lyle.
Turner has only made one official visit so far and that has been to Ohio State. He and his family will be traveling to Oklahoma State this weekend for his second official visit. Other schools on his list are Duke, Kansas, Kentucky and Texas.
Vaughn has been to UNLV and Iowa State on official visits and is planning to visit North Carolina on Feb. 15. He still has Kansas and Kentucky on his list.
Lyle is visiting Oregon this weekend and told me recently that he plans to visit Oklahoma State and Kansas.
Turner will be a real difference maker in college. Vaughn will come in and be a scoring machine, and Lyle will be able to use his instincts and strength to help a team right away. I believe they will all take their time with this decision. Some say Turner is waiting to see who departs for the NBA. It’s way too early to make a prediction on any of these recruiting races.
@PaulBiancardi Where do you think Jaquan Lyle will commit to?
— Basketball News (@AllHoopsNews) January 16, 2014
As the highest-rated point guard left on the board in a year where a lot of schools are looking to fill that position, JaQuan Lyle is a very important recruit.
After speaking with Lyle recently his list of schools is still basically the same, with Kansas, Providence, Oregon, Memphis, West Virginia, Florida State and Connecticut heading the list. He did mention that Cincinnati and Oklahoma State have now made an effort to jump into the race. His only two official visits have been to Memphis and Connecticut this past fall.
Where he will ultimately go will be based on where he makes official visits. As a student-athlete you have the opportunity to take five official visits. He has to figure out where to make his final three visits before getting to the ultimate decision.
It’s way too early to call this one, but something tells me this recruiting battle is going to get very intense soon!
He has made unofficial visits to Connecticut and Memphis.
He has one official visit set up, to Kansas on Jan. 10-12.
“Besides playing time, I am looking for a coaching staff that will push me to be a better person and support me as a student because the NBA is not promised to anyone,” Lyle said.
Let's break down his game and see where he excels and where he needs to improve.
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JaQuan Lyle is a strong, thick guard who is a natural facilitator. His game has a little bit of everything, as he scores via the 3-point shot or with a drive to the basket, using his size to squeeze off shots in the paint. He rebounds from the perimeter and will push the break. Defensively, he possesses great size at 6-foot-5 and is capable of defending a point guard, shooting guard, and even a small forward once he gets in better shape. He needs to get lighter to defend the small, quick point guards. One thing about Lyle that has always impressed me is his understanding of the game and how he sees an advantage and attacks it.
@PaulBiancardi can you compare Jaquan Lyle to someone?— Jhawk05 (@Jhawk0505) December 17, 2013
In some ways he reminds me of former Utah great and NBA standout Andre Miller. Lyle taller but both have the strong, thick body and use that frame to their advantage. Both pass extremely well with instincts for the game and understand their role, be it as a point guard or as a scorer. Miller had a toughness on the floor, as he rarely missed a practice or game. I don't know how tough-minded Lyle is yet.
Lyle will be playing on ESPN on Thursday night at 9:30 pm ET if you want to check him out.
The early signing period arrives Wednesday, marking the first time 2014 prospects can officially sign their national letters of intent, turning previously unbinding verbal commitments into contractually binding scholarship agreements.
Here are 10 storylines to watch for during the eight-day signing period:
Word is that Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones are both hoping to sign during the early period, and that means the country’s biggest package deal should have a decision within days. All indications are that the duo still intends to go to school together, but the final destination has become unclear of late. Duke has long since been considered the front-runner, but there’s been growing chatter for Kansas, especially as it pertains to Okafor. Baylor is the dark horse, and while nobody seems to be talking about the Bears anymore, neither prospect has said they’re out of the running just yet.
2. Awaiting word from Alexander
We’re anticipating an announcement from Cliff Alexander, the nation’s third-ranked prospect. The 6-foot-8 big man took the nation by storm during the recent EYBL season and picked up offers from some of college basketball’s most prestigious programs in the process. Four of those remain in the hunt for his services. While Illinois and DePaul have been the perceived favorites, Kansas and Memphis are in the mix as well. Look for Alexander to trim one of those four off his list before his announcement -- and ultimately make his choice from a list of three final schools.
3. Early or late? That is the question
While Okafor, Jones, and Alexander are all expected to make their decisions in time to sign during the early signing period (that is, on or before Nov. 20), there is another group of prospects we still don’t know what to expect from. Justise Winslow just took his last visit, and he could be ready to decide. William Lee is another ESPN 100 prospect who could very well be ready in the coming days. Stanley Johnson was once targeting a January decision, but he now appears to be on the fence, as there has been mounting speculation that he could abandon those original plans in time to sign early.
4. What’s left for the spring?
With 87 players in the current ESPN 100 already committed and at least four more expected to make their decisions in time to sign early, we’re expecting over 90 percent of the current ESPN 100 to officially be off the board within the next 10 days. That’s an almost unprecedented percentage, leaving very little left on the table for the spring’s late signing period. The big prizes for those playing the waiting game are likely to be Myles Turner, Rashad Vaughn and JaQuan Lyle, along with any of the previously mentioned top prospects who ultimately decide against early signatures.
5. Care for a contingency plan
With so few prospects remaining on the board following this period, the major question is what happens to the programs that have gone the distance with top remaining prospects -- only to end up missing out on them. The best examples are Duke and Kansas. The Blue Devils and Jayhawks have gone head-to-head for Okafor and Jones and have passed on other talented guys as a result. Now they’re in a spot where the consequences of losing out on Okafor and Jones could be especially high, with no good contingency plans left on the board unless they’re able to score Turner, who isn’t likely to be excited about being perceived as anybody’s runner-up.
6. Competition for Kentucky
Kentucky currently has the top-ranked recruiting class in the country. If the Wildcats can hold on to that spot, it would be the fifth time in John Calipari’s six years in Lexington he has secured that distinction. The reality, however, is that it may be unlikely. And while Kentucky’s class is undeniably loaded, the 2014 group will be remembered as much for the guys who passed on the Wildcats -- Okafor, Alexander, Jones, Emmanuel Mudiay, Kelly Oubre and James Blackmon Jr. among others -- perhaps signaling a decline in what has been one of the most dominant recruiting periods for any program in recent history.
7. The Big East is back (or never left)
If this season's recruiting class is any indication, the demise of the Big East has been somewhat exaggerated. While conference realignment might have forever changed one of the country’s most historic conferences, it apparently has not done much to hurt the brand. Xavier, Seton Hall and Georgetown have all put together top-10 classes, and Marquette and Providence are not far behind. With five different programs among the top-20 classes in the country and a total of 15 ESPN 100 prospects having already popped for the Big East, the league is recruiting as well as any in the country.
8. What’s the Matta with this class?
Ohio State has the second-ranked recruiting class in the country, a group loaded with four ESPN 100 prospects and another big man who is just on the cusp of that list. Yet nobody seems to be talking about the Buckeyes. With so much attention being paid to the potential classes at Kansas, Duke and Kentucky, Ohio State has flown under the radar. The reality is that coach Thad Matta did his work early and did it well. D’Angelo Russell, Keita Bates-Diop and Jae’Sean Tate are all coming in next year, and Payton Dastrup is essentially joining the Class of 2016 after he takes a two-year Mormon mission. The Buckeyes have solidified their future as well as any program in America.
9. Talking about the Tar Heels
Roy Williams and North Carolina are in a similar situation. They have a trio of ESPN 100 prospects on board for next season, all ranked among the top 15 prospects in the country. However, because all three were already committed by last May, the Tar Heels haven’t been at the forefront of any recent recruiting headlines. It’s a mistake to sleep on them, though, as they have one of the country’s best scorers on the wing in Justin Jackson, a swingman with elite athleticism; an alpha-male mentality in Theo Pinson; and one of the most dependable point guards in the country in Joel Berry.
10. Mid-major impact
A quick glance at the class rankings will show that the mid-majors are once again well-represented among this year’s top recruiting classes. San Diego State, VCU and UNLV have all asserted themselves as national recruiters. Steve Fisher’s four-man class is headlined by a trio of ESPN 100 products in Malik Pope, Trey Kell and Zylan Cheatham, while Terry Larrier and Mike Gilmore lead a similar four-man group for Shaka Smart and VCU. Dave Rice and the Rebels have one of the best incoming frontcourt tandems in the country in Goodluck Okonoboh and Dwayne Morgan.
I see you are watching Recruiting Nation because you made reference to the "plan", which is how I describe the Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones recruiting situation. There are only three schools who can land Okafor and Jones and they are Baylor, Duke and Kansas, with Duke and Kansas being the favorites. Yes, whoever land this duo would have the best shot at being No. 1 in the class rankings.
Let's look at Kansas first: Today's commitment of ESPN’s No. 10 prospect Kelly Oubre to Kansas puts the Jayhawks in a viable position to land the nation's best class. If they do get Okafor and Jones it would then give the Jayhawks three top-10 players, including the No. 1 player in Okafor. Cliff Alexander was in attendance for “Late Night in the Phog” with Oubre, and the Jayhawks are also pursuing Myles Turner, Rashad Vaughn and JaQuan Lyle. Landing Okafor, Jones and one more of the prospects above would make Kansas No. 1.
As for the Duke Blue Devils, they already have No. 24 Grayson Allen, a sharpshooter from distance who plays with defensive toughness. If they land Okafor and Jones with Justise Winslow, it could make this group the nation's best. All three are visiting Duke on Oct. 25. Kevon Looney and Reid Travis are also still available, and both have shown great interest in Duke.
If Okafor and Jones shock the world and go to Baylor it could make things very interesting as far as the No. 1 class is concerned.
Kentucky is still in play for Okafor and many other top players such as Turner, Stanley Johnson, Winslow, James Blackmon Jr. and Devin Booker. I don't know if the Wildcats will have the No. 1 class when the smoke clears, but I do know it will be another stellar class for John Calipari.
Of course we have to crunch the numbers and use some analytics to determine our class rankings. When the musical chairs of recruiting stops and we actually see who goes where, then we can determine a winner.
Maybe it's an aberration or maybe it will become a trend in college recruiting, but count Cliff Alexander and JaQuan Lyle as the latest who talk about going to school together. This talk all started when Lyle decommitted from Louisville.
A recent quote from Alexander on Twitter:
Me & broski will be playing @JMamba5 playing college basketball together— Cliff Alexander (@humblekid11) September 15, 2013
Another pair of top players, Jahlil Okafor and Tyus Jones, have been planning the same scenario and have been on the same page for months about their intentions and the recruiting process.
Lyle has visits set up with Arizona, Kansas and Memphis, and he visited UConn this past weekend.
Alexander and Lyle will be visiting Kansas and Memphis together, and it's worth noting that Alexander's girlfriend will be on the Jayhawks women's basketball team as a freshman this season, which is one reason why Kansas has been such a high mention.
Alexander already has visited Arizona and DePaul and will also be heading to Illinois for an official visit. Michigan State is still in the race, as Alexander has been there unofficially and includes them on his list.
Memphis is right in the thick of the race and they just made a home visit last Friday. Cliff told me that he and his mom love Tigers coach Josh Pastner.
Look for both to make their decisions after the early signing period to give Lyle time to sort things out and to let the dust settle after the early signing week. Alexander told me he should be ready sometime in December.
UK, Ulis make long-term decisions
There's a process that happens each year: Kentucky looks for a new point guard. For John Calipari, the revolving door at the point began at Memphis and transitioned to Lexington. Calipari has targeted super-human No. 1 draft picks (Derrick Rose and John Wall) and plenty who proved to be human and went merely in the first round. Either way, the coach has been recruiting one-and-doners for more than a half decade.
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Lyle originally chose the Cardinals in June over offers from Tennessee, Florida, Indiana, Illinois and Ohio State, among others.
"I just felt like I needed to make sure I made the right decision for me," he told the paper. "I didn't really think Louisville was the best decision for me."
Lyle is the second point guard to renege on his commitment to the Cardinals in the last two months. ESPN 100 prospect and Louisville native Quentin Snider (Ballard High School) opened up his recruitment in July before committing to Illinois earlier this week.
Head coach Rick Pitino still holds verbal pledges from ESPN 100 forwards Shaqquan Aaron (Seattle/Rainier Beach) and Jaylen Johnson (Ypsilanti, Mich./Ypsilanti).