Recruiting Update: Trey Lyles

One of the top players in the class of 2014 remains on the recruiting board in Durham despite rumors of it being an uphill climb for the Blue Devils. So where does Duke rank with Trey Lyles? TDD spoke to the player's father for the latest.

Seems like things have really quieted down since all the news coming out about Trey de-committing, is that by design?

Tom Lyles: Yes. There have been a lot of calls, but in my mind our approach at this point in time is we don't need to talk a whole lot because he still has two more full seasons of high school to go. That's where the work is, and it means we've been picking and choosing who we are talking to for sure.

You mentioned being ready for high school and for the season…is the high school season a bigger priority than AAU?

It's extremely important to us, because that defines who you are as a player. Your summer is for individual development, but during high school season it's time to see if an individual can become a part of a team. It boils down to how coachable can you be during the high school season on and off the court. During the summer everyone loves you, but in the high school season, you are going to a rival school and it shows your character in how tight you are in the midst of pressure. You're getting strategized by the opposing coach, double or triple teamed, so how do you play through that? Do you fold under pressure or are you the person on the court that people say you are.

With players of Trey's size, you commonly see them playing the post. Is Trey asked just to be a five at his high school?

Well, he is definitely asked to play all over by his coach, but I also definitely try to get him to fall in love with the post this time of year, because it's easy to be a four man and be on the perimeter. That being said, not many bigs really try to play in the post because they don't want to be in the post because they may not like the beating you take there. I try to get him to fall in love with the post during the season while still working on the perimeter stuff a little. However, if he's asked to be the ball-handler and asked to get the ball where it needs to be in crucial moments, then we want him to be able to play both on the perimeter and in the post.

Do you think Trey naturally gravitates towards the wing since you mentioned trying to get him to "fall in love with the post?"

He's a kid, he likes to be able to showcase his talent and he likes to show that he can be effective or dominant at any spot on the floor. When I say I try to get him to fall in love with the post, that's just me saying at this stage, lets recognize that the post is where your bread is buttered right now. I'm not saying you can't do the other because you'll have your option to do different things, but if you fall in love with the post now, you're going to attract more defensive attention and you'll be able to kick it out to an open and willing shooter. Now, somebody is going to have to recover and it helps potentially put you in a one and one situation where you can make a play for your team. Keep the game easy is what I'm telling him because the easier it is for you know as you learn the game, the more longevity you'll have as a player.

Most bigs you talk to have guys that they look to in college or pro to aid in their development, do you and Trey do that?

Trey's kinda a unique breed and I don't want to sound biased because I'm not, but he's a historian for sure. He takes the time on himself to study, he goes back and watches guys like Bob Cousy and Hakeem Olajuwon and Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman and Wilt Chamberlain and Tim Duncan. He watches and he learns and he applies some of that to his game today. He'll take something they do and try to incorporate it into his game and make it his own. It's neat to see him work and watch guys like Penny Hardaway or Tracy McGrady and then the next day he's watching Hakeem or Jordan. He'll tell me that all these guys are great and he wants to see why they are great. In my mind you have to know where you come from before you can know where you are going and it's great that he does that on his own.

I'll be honest, unless he grows another couple inches, I don't think Trey is going to play the post primarily in college, he's going to be a wing player, more a three.

That's really interesting because in watching him play where you see him play in the post a solid amount. How does he, in your mind, make the transition to the wing?

He played in the post a lot during the summer because in most situations, even if he's playing the five role by being in the post, he's really a three because he'll start a lot of his work facing up. However, he is comfortable playing with his back to the basket, but he's also extremely comfortable facing guys up and taking them off the dribble or making a power move with an up and under or a power step or an angle cut or whatever. His approach to the game is still the same because he's comfortable in the post or on the perimeter. He can penetrate and kick or make a play. Unless he grows some more, he's a true combo forward to me.

You think he's more outside in or inside out in how he naturally plays?

I think he plays like a Carmelo Anthony or a LeBron James or Paul Pierce in that they are all four-threes but most of the time, most of the time they are facing the basket.

How much do you guys pay attention to who schools have at the 3?

It's really not a big deal because if there's guys there at the wing, then he can play a two through four role or a three-four role or if there's a guy who is versatile there. They can switch off each other and play different roles. Now you have a kid who can play easily from two through five based on competition and he can create mismatches wherever he's playing because if you put him on the perimeter as a five with a center on him it's to his advantage; or if you play him at the two through three and put him in the post against a guard, he can do work there too.

I know what he's capable of doing and the work we're putting in right now will hopefully help him elevate his game beyond the next level. Right now, we work out with a focus on college, not on high school. We've got a plan for the future and if things continue to go accordingly, then once we're in college, the workouts will go to a pro level because that's what we'll be working towards then.

What kind of things are the coaches saying to you guys about how they can develop Trey?

Right now it's not a whole lot because, lets be honest, they can say what they think you want to hear, but I see what they are doing and I let their actions speak for themselves. Your actions will always speak way more than what your mouth will ever say, so right now we're looking at what they do and have done. We're looking at what they are doing with current players and former players because that right there speaks volumes. In the recruiting game, it's all about sales, everybody is going to try to sell you on something. It's his job to sell you.

What kind of things have you seen as you evaluate past players in programs recruiting Trey? Have there been any positive examples that you've seen that you can point to?

It's difficult because there's a lot that you see, but at the same time when I look at what they have done and what they are doing, I'm asking how does that situation fit my son? How would he fit in that system, how would he respond to their coaching, my focus in probably a little different because I pay attention to everything because I've been through the process myself.

The discussion we're having about how players are utilized in college is a discussion that's common around the recruiting world. I'm curious as to which factors are really sticking out from where you two sit?

Everybody has their opinion or views of what is important for sure. Its' one thing to have your opinion when you don't have a dog in the fight, but once you have a son who is in that world, it's a different perspective.

As a parent, you have to do what you know, not what you feel is best for your son. Not one of these coaches are going to know initially as much as you do if you are an involved parent because you've been with your child for so much longer. They may not know his tendencies, or his work ethic or his mood swings, how he thinks, what kind of buttons to push, and they don't know how they build strength or deal with frustration and stress.

Everybody deals with things differently, so as a parent, you really try to get the best feel for the coaching staff and the program and you try to filter through what's being sold to you. It's always being sold to you, you know? When you have a child in the mix, it takes on a whole different meaning because you know, the decisions you make on behalf of that child or the direction you point them towards, that has a big impact. If you really care for them, so for people with their opinions without a dog in the fight, that's where it's easy to misconstrue what's really going on, but if they were in the situation, I'm sure they'd see things differently.

You hear in recruiting how the coaches talk about the development of the relationship between them and the player--as you see the coaches working to develop a relationship with Trey and your family, which ones in your mind are doing a good job at developing that relationship?

Everybody is doing a good job because this class, the 2014 class, is one of the best even with a few guys re-classifying, so coaches see how much talent is in this class, so everybody is trying to get the cream of the crop because there's a lot of good players out there at many different positions.

The thing that helps Trey is he does so many different things and he does them well. He doesn't specialize in one specific position and you see him play different positions depending on where he's playing. He's a mismatch waiting to happen, so for a coach looking at that, and putting on my coaches hat myself, I'm thinking I can use him in multiple positions, we can use him as a rover and use him to get stops. Every coach that has seen him play says he's mismatch wherever he plays.

It's one thing for a coach to say, this is how we'll utilize Trey, but it's a different part of it for a coach to show you who they are and develop the relationship with you that as big a deal to you guys as how they will utilize him?

If you don't have a relationship with us, we can't even talk because this is my son. Just like my wife, my daughter, my mother, just like all my family and I want to know if I leave this Earth today, I want to know he's in good hands. If we don't have a good relationship with the coach, we can't even talk. When you are a close knit family in a tight community, I think it's the respectful thing to do to work on that relationship.

So who is doing a good job then developing that relationship?

It's really everybody we're talking to, there's no one program doing a better job than the others. UCLA is doing a good job, Stanford is doing a good job, Kentucky is doing a good job, Louisville, Butler, the list goes on and on. Duke, North Carolina, I'm not leaving anybody out by choice, I don't want to make it seem like we're overlooking anybody. The ones I mentioned are the ones who popped into my head, but every school recruiting us is doing a great job and I tell every school recruiting us how much we appreciate their efforts and every single one recruiting us is doing a great job. I'm hoping that that doesn't change whenever Trey gets to college, I know they will have a high demand of him but hopefully their integrity doesn't change.

What were your opinions of the all-access series that just aired - most recently focusing on Kentucky?

I have not watched it really yet, and Trey has watched bits and pieces of it he told me. He said it was really good and they really opened the door and exposed themselves to the public and to the media. I've heard nothing but positive things from it.

Coach Calipari was talking on the show about his philosophy as to what they communicate to players about how Kentucky is not for everybody and they demand a lot from their players, how does that strike you since Trey is certainly being recruited by him?

It's a very different approach, but at the same time when you sit down and talk with the really successful coaches that have been doing it for a long time, and you see the volume of guys they've had and how successful they've been, they can say stuff like that and you respect that because you see the results.

I say that because it's the exact same thing you hear from Rick Pitino or Coach K or Roy Williams or Tom Izzo...they all say, it's not for everybody. You look at some of these programs like Kentucky or Duke or North Carolina or others, they just don't recruit a lot of guys, and they don't offer many people. You don't see them throwing out a lot of offers because they know who they want and they go after them. If they don't get their first choice, they just work their way down their list.

How does that affect your evaluation of them?

Well, now they have set the precedence because if they tell me they aren't recruiting a lot of guys at his position, so now, I sit back and watch because I see what they said they were going to do.

Have you had any coaches who have specifically said, we're not recruiting any other players at Trey's position or who play a similar style game?

We've had people say that they are not going to go after anybody else, but what they'll also say is we may go after a two or a four or a five, but some are saying we won't recruit any other players who can impact at a variety of positions like Trey can.

How does Duke rate with their pitch so far?

They share some things differently. In our one on one conversations with Coach K and his assistants, they definitely come from a different angle. They do have their position guys, but they are also definitely looking for versatile guys who can play multiple positions who are high IQ players. Programs like Duke, North Carolina, Stanford, some of the others, they go for those high IQ guys for sure. We've heard some different things for sure from them.

Can you share an example of what makes Duke's and North Carolina's communication "different"?

Well, everyone has expressed major interest. Every single school. How they are saying they would use him is as the player that he is, as a mismatch player. He'd play all over, everyone is saying the same things. Their expectations would be for him to come and play immediately but that's up to him, he'll have to show himself worthy of coming in as a freshman and earn his spot. I'm not going to give it to you, you are going to have to earn it and respect the game and keep earning to keep your spot.

How aggressive would you characterize Duke and North Carolina have been in their recruitment efforts of Trey?

The thing with them is that they are true professionals, and they are extremely confident in what they do, in their character, with their record and what they do, and they believe it to be successful. To be honest, their record speaks for itself. Is there much of a sales pitch from them? No, but is there major communication? Yes. It is very quiet to the public and to the media. At the end of the day what matters is the programs and the families. I do know that the public is interested in what these guys are doing with their lives and it's been quiet because we wanted it to be quiet, and that's why we're only talking to certain media individuals.

How much has Coach K talked about his Team USA experience with you guys?

He did mention it, he definitely has, but he talks much more directly about Trey as a player, Duke as a program, life after Duke, what the program does for your development for once you leave the program. Let's be honest, it is crucial that you have a plan for once you leave college and the basketball stops, it's going to end one day and we want to make sure that he is prepared for life after basketball and understands that life will always go on.

What are his interests after the ball stops bouncing for him?

Well, I'm not sure it's going to stick to what it is now because most collegians change their majors at least three times. Right now it's in between entrepreneurship, business, a lawyer, or being a surgeon. I'm sure it'll change a few more times. We try to get him to think about having a successful future through having a good education.

As soon as he de-committed, the rumor mill started churning our various scenarios for Trey. Have any hit home?

We just don't pay attention to stuff like that because we definitely learned that people have opinions and their opinions are built on what they think or feel, but not anything that's really true. We just don't pay attention to things that aren't true.

Switching gears, are you putting the lock down on visits now that high school season is upon you guys?

We're actually going to try and fit a few in. We don't have anything concrete lined up, and we're still trying to figure out if we can make some more visits happen and whether it'd be wise to do something right now during the season. There's talk, but we haven't locked in anything for sure but we are looking at some for sure.

What are the schools you are looking at trying to visit?

Notre Dame, UCLA, and Florida for right now. We may get to Duke, and if we do that, we'll definitely go to North Carolina at the same time. Those are the ones we're considering right now and then there's some we're considering that can wait until after the season. If we do the UCLA visit, we would visit Stanford too at the same time.

Has Duke or North Carolina offered any specific dates to you guys for a visit at this time?

They say it's more us, and to let them know if we want to come in on a particular date. They are accommodating of what our schedule is. They are true professionals for sure and we appreciate it. They've left it up to us to let them know when we want to come in and when it works in our schedule.

Are there any schools that are a high priority to visit?

Those ones that I just mentioned and also the visits we've already had. We've gone to Kentucky and to Butler and to Louisville, because they are very close. We wanted to jump on those right away since they were so close to us, but for those that are farther away, that would involve a drive, we can wait on those, there's no hurry.

Are any schools asking to host Trey on an official visit in January/February time frame since the new rules allows his class to take officials much earlier than the Fall 2013?

Everybody has mentioned that but of course, you only get five so you want to make sure out of those five that you want to get to each place twice if you are really interested. He'd have to take the unofficial and official visit to visit a school twice because we'd want to make sure that those five are where he really wants to use his official visits, and we want to make certain where he's going to take his official visits once he's had a chance to visit them unofficially.

It doesn't make sense for him to take an official visit to some school if he hasn't even visited them unofficially first. There's other programs that are starting to show new interest, almost daily, so there's some that just show up and there's some who have faded away.

Like who?

There's a few, but it's just part of the process. Like Coach Calipari and Coach K and others say, it's not for everybody…and that's why it's important you have a tough skin because you know how much these kids change their minds.

The Devils Den Top Stories