It's not atypical that a player from Indiana emerges early on the national radar. The Hoosier State enjoys a well-earned reputation both as a talent producer and magnificent developmental state for grassroots talent.
JaQuan Lyle thus merely stepped forth as a one member of an elite club. As a freshman he notched a double-double in front of Tom Crean and Bruce Weber (still at Illinois), earning himself a spot on the frosh phenom board.
The Hoosiers and Fighting Illini along with Purdue and Xavier extended very early offers. Louisville jumped in early as well and hosted Lyle for an unofficial visit at the opening of his sophomore season. While many casually assumed he'd land in Bloomington, the Cardinals positioned themselves very strongly from the beginning and altered the narrative.
He committed to U-L but backed off prior to signing day. He also transferred to Huntington Prep for his senior year and ultimately chose Oregon.
But Lyle's game differs from that of most point guards. He stands 6-4, 195 pounds, and thus he bears the physical dimensions of a wing rather than a floor general.
He utilizes his height and mass to overpower defenders, and when contained off the dribble he's able to pass over the top. Lyle is at his best putting the ball on the floor and expanding his options as he approaches the basket. He's a capable scorer himself either pulling up for jumpers or finishing at the rim, and he's highly alert and adept locating open shooters on drive-and-kick.
His passing ability far outpaces most players his size and challenges wing defenders who aren't accustomed to handling foes capable of such creative distribution. He boasts tremendous court vision and handles pressure thanks to a sure handle.
His jump shot also has improved significantly. He has enjoyed occasionally huge shooting performances during the past few months, addressing a widespread (and lingering) concern about his ability to score from the perimeter. But anyone who watched him during the spring saw clear progress.
He also makes wing contributions from the point guard position. He's a sneakily effective rebounder who recently tallied 23 points, eight rebounds and five assists at The Eight final in Las Vegas in the 2013 summer. Tall point guards present a conundrum for their coaches, who typically must compensate for some athletic disadvantages, so it's critical that the bigger man play big. And Lyle does just that, which should accelerate his learning process at the next level.
Nowhere in that section did you see a reference to Lyle being explosive. He doesn't possess elite quickness, speed or leaping ability, at times hindering his attempts to penetrate the lane. For that reason his jump shot takes on increased significance, because he'll need balance in order to force defenses to play him honestly.
He also had some down moments this summer. He was strangely quiet and disconnected at the NBPA Top 100 Camp and continues to be streaky as shooter. He also must be careful not to gain too much weight, as he must walk the power/bulky tightrope successfully.
Meanwhile, at Oregon and down the road, he likely will pair alongside another point guard. That means Lyle must learn to play without the ball, no longer waiting for a pass on the perimeter but utilizing off-ball screens and using his strength to create mid-range catch-and-shoot opportunities.
His own defense needs some refinement. It's difficult for nearly any 6-4 point guard to defend opposing floor generals, and Lyle must become more attentive to that side of the court. Again, facilitating a preferable defensive matchup explains why the Ducks likely will move him off the ball occasionally.
There's little question he'll enjoy success with Oregon. To become a star and, thinking ahead, to become a high NBA draft choice, he'll need to knock down jumpers and attempt to improve his quickness as much as possible.
Over the long haul, his size and skills for his position should enable him to thrive and enjoy a long and lucrative career in the sport.