Arizona head coach Sean Miller has known Lyons for a while and took some time to reflect on how the relationship between the two started.
"Mark Lyons – myself and really James Whitford and Emanuel Richardson from our staff – we've known each other for almost seven years now," Miller said. "Mark committed to us from Xavier right in his junior year and from his junior year he stuck with us because of a technicality on his transcript. He wasn't eligible to play his freshman year at Xavier but he was also on scholarship and was able to practice and do every single thing that we did as a team other than participate in a game. If you followed his career after we left, he was on two other teams.
"That team that I described went to the Sweet 16. And then he followed up with being a big part of two other teams that also went to the Sweet 16. So when you think about a player who has been to three Sweet 16's and still has remaining eligibility, he's had one dynamic career. For him to make the decision after he graduated from Xavier to leave, I'm sure was on his end a very difficult part, but to reunite with us says a lot about our relationship. He believes in a lot of the things that we believe in."
Lyons is obviously a good player, but his experience may be the most important quality that he is adding to the Wildcats.
"Adding him to our team is very unique because he is a talented player, but the experience I described is really difficult to put into words," Miller said. "He gives us competitiveness, toughness, and he's been in the arena in a big game and to me he is somebody who knows to play both offense and defense.
"When you think about our recruiting class, everybody focuses on the four freshman, and rightfully so, but because of his eligibility, he really is a fifth member of the class in many ways. Adding him with those four changes a lot of things in a positive way for us."
Lyons has gotten better as a player since Miller first met him and has also matured off the court as well.
"Really across the board, he is bigger and stronger physically," Miller said. "He is much more experienced a player. He has become a very good shooter. If you look at his statistics during his four years at Xavier he shot the ball from the three very well, made free throws in very big situations, and he has grown as a player like you would expect a player to grow in a four-year period of time when he is in a great program being very well coached like he was.
"Hopefully we can make his last year and his decision to come here a very good one, not only for our team, but also for him."
When asked to describe the type of player that he is getting in Lyons, Miller was actually quick to point to Lyons' mindset rather than his on the court skills.
"When we recruited Mark a long time ago, the word that came to me is competitiveness," Miller said. "He hates to lose. He is a great competitor. He can impact the game in a lot of ways. He can do it defensively. He can do it scoring; he averaged 16 points a game last year. And he can do it by getting other players involved. He is not a one-dimensional player by any stretch.
"That competitive fire that he has can really be contagious. It's one of the exciting things about this team that he brings. He brings that element to what we have. Mark can play with a point guard or he can be a point guard."