You typically know a player has committed early when his first story on the network covers said commitment. Trey Lyles became a feather in Tom Crean's cap when he issued a pledge to Indiana prior to his freshman season, and though he'd yet to take center stage no one within the state questioned Crean's wisdom for offering.
Lyles was almost fully grown as a freshman and possessed inordinate skills for a young 6-9 athlete. He reigned as a favored son in Indianapolis through his underclassman years, showcasing elite talent and of course tantalizing fans with his promise to shine the Hoosiers down the road in 2014-15.
But something happened along the way. In the late 2012 summer, Lyles backed off his commitment and shocked observers who'd expected him to suit up for the home state program without a hitch. He noted that Indiana remained very much in play, but of course most de-commitments rarely end up back in the fold.
Lyles stormed through a big junior season and further established himself as a national top 10 prospect. His production became so consistent that he almost suffered for underexposure while everyone in the grassroots community searched for the next big thing.
But college coaches never forgot about him, and this past February Lyles cut his list to six: Butler, Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Louisville and UCLA. He then narrowed that to four in July, cutting the Blue Devils and Bruins and reportedly favoring the Wildcats and Cardinals.
He's taking additional visits this fall and will pick from among that quartet.
Lyles boasts a quality that coaches always desire in big men, one that can't be learned: coordination. He possesses very good hands and the hand-eye syncing to finish with touch around the basket, and with either hand. His coordination also enables him to handle and pass the ball with impressive skill, shoot accurately to medium-range, and he's a fine rebounder as well.
Though hardly a sensational athlete, Lyles also runs reasonably well and should be able to maintain the pace in an uptempo setting.
Offensively, Lyles prefers to score facing the rim but has a potential powerhouse body that will allow him to horse opponents as well. He has educated footwork, good shooting touch, a full arsenal of turnaround jump shots and halfhooks, and very good hands for tips around the rim. All in all, he's able to mold his offensive game into diverse situations and versus a multitude of defenses.
His strength also should enable him to develop into a solid positional defender and stalwart defensive rebounder.
A lack of explosion stands out here. Lyles runs okay but has heavy legs and isn't particularly quick in terms of interior reactions. He also must gather himself before jumping for slams and can be bothered substantially by shotblockers.
At the same time, his physique will force him to be a power forward, not a combo. Thus, there's a bit of a style clash in terms of how he likes to play versus how he'll need to operate versus taller and more athletic opponents. The saying has become trite, but high floor and low ceiling has become affixed to Lyles' evaluations.
He does possess the lower body to establish position and create space, however, and his tools are polished enough that he should be able to develop effective compensation strategies. Still, those are questions he must address affirmatively to continue thriving.
Wherever he lands in college, Lyles will be ready to play right away. He has the size, body, skills and intelligence to succeed immediately in a college system, and few peers in his size range possess his complement of talents.
NBA scouts may offer more skeptical reviews based on his athletic limitations, but of course not every player in the pros is physically dynamic. In the worst case, Lyles should have a chance to make basketball his living and enjoy a long, productive career.