NCB On The Trail: JaQuan Lyle

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NEW YORK -- The Dick's Sporting Goods High School National Tournament crowned a champion on Saturday at Madison Square Garden with a familiar name as Montverde Academy (Fla.) won its second straight title, this time 71-62 over Oak Hill Academy (Va.). Over the six-year history of this prestigious event, this was the deepest field of teams and the highest level of talent from top to bottom. Montverde came in ranked as the No. 1 high school team in the country and should walk away in that top spot when the polls are finalized.

As the final high school team event of the 2013-14 season, let's take a look at five things we learned from this year's tournament:

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Who is the best high school basketball team in the country?

That question will be answered by the end of the weekend as the Dick’s Sporting Goods High School National Tournament began Thursday at New York Christ The King High School.

Huntington (W.Va.) Prep was the first team to advance to Friday’s semifinal round after ESPN 100 guard JaQuan Lyle drilled a game-winning 3-pointer with two seconds left in a 65-63 victory. Oak Hill (Mouth of Wilson, Va.) followed suit in the second act, handling Charlotte (N.C.) Northside Christian 69-60.

Las Vegas Findlay Prep looked to be on the verge of pulling away early in the second half of the third quarterfinal, but Seattle Rainier Beach came storming back, ultimately cutting the deficit to two points before Findlay was able to hang on, 67-59.

In the nightcap, Kevin Boyle made a return to the tri-state area as his Montverde (Fla.) Academy squad handled Sagemont (Fla.) 81-63 in the most lopsided game of the day.

Top Performances

[+] EnlargeMontaque Gill-Caesar
Dave Telep/ESPN.comJunior forward Montaque Gill-Ceasar helped Huntington Prep outlast La Lumiere in the Dick's Sporting Goods tourney quarterfinals.
JaQuan Lyle, Huntington Prep
Point guard, Class of 2014
6-foot-5, 215 pounds
Committed to Oregon


The first 31.5 minutes are almost an afterthought following the dynamic way in which Lyle closed the game. While he’ll be remembered for the game-winning 3-pointer he hit from the top of the key with just two seconds left and a defender draped all over him, his play on the previous possession was just as important. Huntington was trailing by one when La Lumiere (Ind.) went into a zone, hoping to confuse Huntington. Instead, Huntington got the ball to Lyle at the high post and let him go to work. He spun into the lane, attracted three defenders and dumped the ball to Thomas Bryant for an easy dunk.

Montaque Gill-Ceasar, Huntington Prep
Small forward, Class of 2015
6-6, 215
Undecided


The powerful wing might not have been the last-minute hero, but he was as efficient as anyone for Huntington. He made shots from behind the arc, moved well off the ball with curling screens and timely basket cuts and showed the versatility to bully smaller defenders on the block or score over top of them from the mid-range area. He’s a matchup nightmare because he’s so powerful for his position, but unlike most with his build, his offensive game isn’t just brute force. Therefore, almost everything he does translates to the next level.

Jalen Coleman, La Lumiere
Shooting guard, Class of 2015
6-2, 170
Undecided


Coleman didn’t have his customary shooting performance, especially in the first half, but his response to that slow start was most impressive. Even when his shots weren’t falling, he was still scoring, in large part because he was able to mix up his attack, get into the paint and get himself easy points at the free-throw line. Later on, he made a pair of huge 3-point shots with the game on the line, the last of which would have been the game-winner had it not been for Lyle’s shot.

Caleb Martin & Cody Martin, Oak Hill
Small forwards, Class of 2014
6-7, 190 and 6-7, 205
Both signed with N.C. State


Northside Christian came out of the gates with a lot of defensive intensity to catch Oak Hill off guard, but both of the Martin brothers stepped up and were critical to their team’s ability to settle down and take control of the game. Caleb was the first to respond, showing his length and smooth open-floor game to get to the rim, then following that up with a 3-pointer to get his team going. Cody was forced to take over as the team’s primarily ball-handler, where he proved be a dependable decision-maker and a valuable distributor. He asserted himself on the glass, adding 17 points to his brother’s 18. Both were an efficient 7-for-12 from the floor.

Craig Victor II, Findlay Prep
Power forward, Class of 2014
6-7, 205
Signed with Arizona


With Horace Spencer and Derryck Thornton both out of the lineup with injury and Rashad Vaughn and Kelly Oubre shaking off the cobwebs following Wednesday’s McDonald’s All-American game in Chicago, Victor stepped up to lead Findlay on Thursday. He looked a step quicker than earlier this winter, both in getting off the floor to finish around the rim and facing up his defender. He was a menace on the offensive glass, showed his soft touch on several short jumpers and even made a couple of high-level passes on the interior.

Ben Simmons, Montverde Academy
Power forward, Class of 2015
6-9, 230
Committed to LSU


Simmons was a man among boys inside the paint, not only showing off his unmatched athleticism for a variety of explosive finishes and blocks but also showing some of his more subtle tools that don’t often get as much recognition. He impressed with his quick feet and interior reflexes, the soft hands to come up with deep catches (both low and high) and the ability to get easy points by beating opposing big men from rim to rim. Once he got going, he even stepped out to hit a corner 3-pointer. Simply put, Sagemont had nobody that could come close to providing the same type of physical presence and sheer talent inside.

Semifinal Preview

Oak Hill Academy vs. Findlay Prep, 2:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Oak Hill received excellent production out of the Martin twins in the quarterfinals, and they’ll need that again Friday if they’re going to hold off Findlay’s one-two perimeter punch of Oubre and Vaughn. Findlay has almost no interior depth to work with, so it will need not only another big game for Victor, but help from Oubre on the glass as well. Ultimately, look for depth and tempo to become potential factors here, as Oak Hill will look to wear down a Findlay team that is currently playing with just seven players. Findlay will likely play quite a bit of zone to try to slow the game as much as possible.

Montverde Academy vs. Huntington Prep, 4:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2

Montverde ran away in its quarterfinal matchup while pushing the pace at every opportunity, getting a lot of easy baskets in transition as a result. Transition defense is going to be key for Huntington, but just as importantly, it will need to take care of the ball offensively and not settle for contested jumpers that could lead to potential run-outs for Montverde. Two of the best junior big men in the country will be going head to head, as Bryant and Simmons will likely be matched up. Lyle and D'Angelo Russell will lead their respective teams on the perimeter.
The 2014 Dick’s Sporting Goods High School National Tournament, which features eight of the best teams in the country, as well as marquee players in the ESPN 100 and ESPN 60, takes place Thursday, Friday and Saturday in New York. The semifinals take place at Christ The King High School in Middle Village, while Madison Square Garden plays host to the championship. All games will be televised by the ESPN family of networks; click here for the schedule and other event information.

This year’s field might be the best ever. Let’s take a look at the players to watch:


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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.



When looking at the final four schools involved for JaQuan Lyle -- Oregon, Memphis, Oklahoma State and Kansas -- the one that lost out the most was Oklahoma State, as I believe it needed him more than the other schools.

Kansas has Naadir Tharpe and Frank Mason coming back next season to share the point. Tharpe has made steady progress at Kansas and will be a senior next season.

Memphis has ESPN 100 prospect Dominic Magee coming in. He will be sharing the point guard spot with Rashawn Powell, who sat out this season.

When you look at Oklahoma State’s returning roster, it doesn't have an obvious choice at the point guard spot. The Cowboys will be relying on junior college prospect Jeff Newberry.

Oregon landed Lyle and has a need for a pass-first point guard, as it allows Dominic Artis, who prefers to score first, to slide over to shooting guard at times. Lyle’s choice was not a surprise, as he visited every school and every school has a need for him.

Scout's take: Ducks land Lyle 

March, 19, 2014
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Four-star PG JaQuan Lyle, No. 41 in the ESPN 100, has committed to Oregon over Memphis, Oklahoma State and Kansas. What will Lyle bring to the Ducks? Let's break it down:


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Only three players are left on the board in the ESPN 100, and Myles Turner is the only one who's a game-changer. But it doesn't mean there is talent out there who won't help a major program.

JaQuan Lyle, who is ranked No. 41, is a setup point guard with a strong body and is capable of playing as a freshman. His greatest assets are his passing ability and basketball IQ. He understands the game. Lyle plans on making his college decision soon and is down to Oregon, Oklahoma State, Kansas and Memphis.

No. 99 prospect Josh Cunningham is a hybrid forward who excels on the break and in defending in the half court. He has enough of offense to keep opponents honest and is looking at many schools, including Indiana and South Carolina.

There are always guys outside the top 100 who can help programs at different levels next season. If they are still unsigned in the late period, it could mean a lot of things. Some may be waiting on their grades, while others are still blossoming, and a few may be hoping for better offers.

Predicting the uncommitted ESPN 100s 

February, 18, 2014
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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:

Myles Turner


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Biancardi's Breakdown: JaQuan Lyle 

February, 17, 2014
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video JaQuan Lyle (Evansville, Ind./Huntington Prep), the highest-rated uncommitted perimeter player left in the ESPN 100, is in high demand as Kansas, Providence, Oregon, UConn, Memphis and Oklahoma State are in heavy pursuit of the Indiana native. He is one of the few players left in the 2014 class who could come in and contribute immediately to a major college program.

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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Video: Coveted basketball targets

February, 13, 2014
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National recruiting reporters Adam Finkelstein and Reggie Rankin join Phil Murphy to discuss which programs would most benefit from adding each of the four uncommitted ESPN 100 prospects.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.
Players 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.

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.
Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.



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.

#AskCoachB: Where's Lyle looking?

January, 17, 2014
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Want to ask ESPN RecruitingNation national recruiting director Paul Biancardi a question about basketball recruiting? Tweet it to @PaulBiancardi using the hashtag #AskCoachB.

 

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!

Biancardi's Breakdown: JaQuan Lyle 

December, 23, 2013
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JaQuan Lyle, ranked No. 39 in the ESPN 100, is one of the nation’s top unsigned senior point guards. His current list of schools includes Connecticut, Memphis, Kansas, Florida State, Oregon, Providence and West Virginia.

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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#AskCoachB: Talking JaQuan Lyle

December, 18, 2013
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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.

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.

Video: Uncommitted ESPN 100 recruits

November, 29, 2013
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Matt Schick, Gerry Hamilton and Paul Biancardi break down several of the best uncommitted 2014 basketball recruits.

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