When the Albany City Rocks began to travel in the 2013 spring, big man Tyler Lydon opened eyes. The skinny forward immediately drew offers from Boston College, Iowa and Providence, among others, with more to follow.
Lydon’s multi-faceted talents became increasingly evident during that summer, and he accumulated additional offers from Creighton, Minnesota, Notre Dame, Penn State, Florida, Syracuse, Virginia and Seton Hall. But by the fall, he already knew he wanted to spend his college career with Jim Boeheim’s Orange.
A native of rural New York, Lydon has competed against top competition during his years at the New Hampton (N.H.) School. Between the prep and travel seasons, Lydon has been able to learn what he does well and how he can improve.
He once again toured with the City Rocks in 2014. As a committed player he didn’t face he pressure that affected many of his peers, but conversely he also did not receive as much publicity. Not that he needed it: In addition to his time on the EYBL circuit, he also earned an invitational to play with USA Basketball’s 18-under squad.
Lydon currently ranks No. 79 in the senior class as he progresses through his final season before entering college.
Lydon is a very effective face-up fourman, and it has been obvious for a full two years how he’d fashion himself into a college player. Because he’s thin and mobile, without being terrible explosive in a straight-up sense, that means he’ll need to excel from space.
|Lydon’s ability to shoot, handle and pass make him a potent threat|
Fortunately, that’s exactly what he does. Though his percentages weren’t always great with the City Rocks, he wields a smooth, natural looking stroke to 22 feet. Lydon likes to receive passes outside and either fire in a jump shot or else put the ball on the floor — he handles well for 6-9 — and create something off the bounce.
While not explosive from a standing position, he does jump well with a running start. His size also enables him to make effective passes to the post, and he’s a valuable outlet for guards who are facing stiff ball pressure.
He’s also a solid rebounder. For a player so lacking in strength, Lydon stuck his nose in the paint and averaged seven rebounds per game on the EYBL circuit for two straight years. That offers evidence that, though he’s face-up player, he’s still tough. He also averaged more than one block per game thanks to his reach and timing.
Lydon has a high basketball IQ and projects as a master of structure yet someone who’s also capable uptempo because he runs the court well. Mobility and explosiveness are two entirely difference attributes, and the fact that a player lacks one (explosiveness in this case) doesn’t mean he’ll necessarily lack the other.
Lydon’s mobility applies to his actions taken in a straight line, but he can struggle with lateral movement. As mentioned above, he also lacks straight-up leaping ability and thus doesn’t project as a prime finisher or rim protector at the ACC level.
He also may take a couple of years to gain sufficient weight. Lydon is rail thin and will need to add bulk to both his upper and, more importantly, his lower body prior to pushing for a spot in the starting lineup.
Lydon projects as a first-year reserve for the Orange due to physique challenges, no question. After that, however, he could help the squad with its ability to stretch defenses and create perimeter mismatches.
Syracuse signed an outstanding fall class, and while someone such as Malachi Richardson could become an early NBA entrant, I suspect Lydon will compete for the Orange for four years. Continuity has proved rare for some elite teams during the modern era, and a legitimate starting-caliber player who plays all four years can be vital.
Lydon also possesses the style that Duke forward Ryan Kelly did in high school, and he’s now playing in the NBA. Face-up forwards continue to make a mark have begun to outpace their rankings, another factor that augers in Lydon’s favor. In the meantime, the Orange will be happy to welcome him into the program and get to work on his body and acclimation to the college game.