High school basketball in Indiana glows with a mythology that doesn't exist elsewhere. The David vs. Goliath parable of Hoosiers and the state's devoted loyalty to its grassroots scene afford the game more meaning. It's true amateur basketball as the game was intended to be played.
His senior season has been illustrious, as one would expect. Into late February, Lyles was averaging 26 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks per game for a team that will compete for the state 4A championship. He certainly has competition — both James Blackmon (Indiana) and Trevon Bluiett (Xavier) average in the ballpark of 35 points per game — but Lyles has built a reputation and portfolio that will stand the test of time.
Skill is his game. Lyles doesn't possess more than average athleticism, potentially limiting him when he counters long-armed, springy shotblockers with enough strength to stand their ground. Defensively, he certainly has a long way to go.
But he features a robust complement of scoring tools that enable him to compensate in often glorious fashion. He owns a wide assortment of back to the basket moves, and he's a coordinated and clever finisher in traffic. You don't have to jump over everyone to score, and Lyles has taken that fact to heart.
He's also dangerous face-up player. He has ample range to the elbow and hits a respectable percentage from three-point territory, and while he may not take as many for John Calipari that ability may pay off in the longer term.
Kentucky is likely to suffer another mass exodus following this season, and thus Lyles could be among the Cats' most talented performers in 2014-15. He'll be flanked by other elites such as center Karl Towns and perhaps some returnees, but he should feature prominently in UK's attack and enjoy very successful tenure in the SEC.