Jaquan Lyle is a 6'-4" guard from Evansville, Indiana, with a truly special ability to pass the basketball. His vision and understanding of the game is beyond his years. He currently holds four scholarship offers, including one from Illinois. His list of suitors continues to grow and will accelerate when he plays in front of college coaches in July.
Lyle was pleasantly surprised with his Illini offer from head coach Bruce Weber."It was good. I didn't know they were going to offer me so fast. When he said it, I was kind of shocked. I told him, 'Thank you for the opportunity.'"
Bosse High School coach Shane Burkhart was extremely impressed with how Weber and the Illini staff handled the offer to such a young prospect.
"Coach Weber did it the right way. He brought him up there. He didn't want to do it over the phone or at a high school game.
He brought him up and sat him down and told him what he thought. You have to commend a coach that does that. It is a neat thing, and Coach Weber has done it the right way."
The Illinois coaching staff has done an excellent job of building a bond with the 2014 prospect.
"I feel I have a good relationship with Jay Price and Bruce Weber. They are both real cool."
Price is Lyle's lead recruiter. He and the rest of the Illini staff have done an excellent job of getting the precocious youngster to visit Champaign multiple times.
"The first time, I went in the locker room before the game and was able to hear Coach talk," Lyle described. "After the game, I got to talk with him.
"The next visit, we went to their practice facility with Coach Price. Before tip-off, we went in the locker room and visited with Coach Weber. That is when he gave me the offer."
He observed the Illini play several games last season. He likes the freedom Illini players have on the floor.
"I follow them closely because they are one of my top schools. I have to follow them and get a background on the school."
What do UI coaches like about his game?
"They said they like my passing ability and how I am not selfish even though I can score. They like my game a lot."
Both Weber and Price kept track of Lyle during the high school season.
"Bruce Weber came down for one of my games last year. There were a lot of coaches there. Jay Price came down to a couple games too."
Lyle likes how the Illini attack on the offensive end and how they use their playmakers.
"I like it a lot. I kind of compare myself a bit to Demetri McCamey where I can score, but I have the passing ability too."
Illinois, Indiana, Xavier and Purdue have made offers. There are many other schools in the mix including Texas, West Virginia, Ohio State, Michigan State, Memphis, Virginia Tech, Georgetown, Oklahoma State, Stanford, and Oregon State.
One misconception about Lyle's recruitment is that he is an "Indiana lock." Everyone involved with the situation says this is not true.
"I don't really have a favorite right now. I joke around with them on twitter. I don't really have a favorite. I am just having fun."
He plans to wait until his junior season to make his decision on a college. He has a support group who will help him during the decision-making process.
"My AAU coaches, my high school coach and my family."
This high school season was a successful one for Bosse and Lyle.
"I averaged 15 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists last season. We won our sectional championship."
Burkhart discussed how he felt his freshman played this past year.
"It was a season that was full of ups and downs for Jaquan. He was our second leading scorer and rebounder at 15.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. He learned how to play up a level against players he wasn't used to.
He learned what it was like to see players work hard for four years and not attain their goal. It was a pretty good season for him on the floor and in the locker room."
Burkhardt likes how Lyle has progressed and how he expects to take on an even bigger role for next year's Bosse team.
"We saw him grow up a lot throughout the season. We are seeing bits and pieces of him taking ownership of the team that is coming back next year. He is trying to be a better teammate all the time. That is a growth we really liked and expect from him here on out."
Lyle describes how he sees his game.
"I am real versatile. I play the one through three with my height and dribbling ability. My strengths are my passing and scoring ability."
Burkhart loves his versatility as a player and how he can use that to create mismatches on the high school level.
"With Jaquan, if teams want to go small he is going to go down and play the post for us because he has great post moves and is extremely talented on the block. If they want to bring a big out on him, we are going to isolate him on the perimeter and let him take the big to the rim.
If they go pack in a zone to try to take him away, we will put him on the perimeter. If it is a loose zone that we can get him in the middle and create for other people, that is what we are going to do."
He is glad to have Lyle on his side!
"He is a coach's nightmare when you play against us and a coach's dream when you get to go home at night and game-plan with him!"
His passing ability is special. In a game at the Chicagohoops Memorial Day Classic, he had almost double digit assists in the first half. He sees the floor and knows where his teammates are going to be and puts the ball in the perfect position for them to be productive with the ball.
He attacks the hoop with authority and athleticism. Lyle controls the game on the floor for his team. If he needs to get a bucket, he can take his man off the bounce or hit a mid-range jumper. If he sees he needs to get his team involved, he will make a spectacular pass.
Lyle could play anywhere from point guard to small forward, depending on how his game progresses and how much he grows.
There is one thing that is for sure with Lyle. He is a five-star prospect who will have schools from all over the nation seeking his attention over the next three years. Lyle will be playing in team camps at Xavier and Ohio State as well as visiting Michigan State in late June.
There is a possibility Lyle and his high school team could be playing in the team camp June 22nd in Champaign. Regardless, Burkhart assures Illini fans the UI coaching staff will be seeing lots of Lyle.
"They have already talked about being in to see him in September. They are going to make sure they see him in July, and we are going to try to make it up there on June 22nd."