Great visit, bonds have LSU on Lyle's mind

Fresh off an official visit to LSU, JaQuan Lyle is buzzing about his experience. The former 2014 five-star, now enrolled at IMG Academy, spoke with TSD about his trip, connections with Ben Simmons and Antonio Blakeney as well as when he'll sign.

JaQuan Lyle, one of the nation’s top point guards from the Class of 2014, is back on the recruiting treadmill for another cycle in 2015 and, after an official visit to LSU this weekend, the Tigers are in the running for his services.

Lyle (6-5, 217) ran the gamut of experiences during the first installment of his recruitment.

The former Evansville Bosse (Ind.) star transferred to national power Huntington Prep (WV) for his senior season, committed and decommitted from Louisville only to sign with Oregon, where he was eventually denied admittance and left on the sideline at the beginning of this academic calendar year.

Now enrolled at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., Lyle is on the market once again. What he saw during a jam-packed sports weekend in Baton Rouge definitely caught his eye.

“It was a great visit,” Lyle told TSD. “There was a basketball (exhibition) game and a football game. The basketball game we had nice seats to watch the game, and then the football game was just absolutely crazy. I liked it a lot”

The atmosphere inside Tiger Stadium during LSU’s 20-13 overtime loss to Alabama resonated with the hoops standout, too, as did the passion and knowledge of the LSU fan base.

“No, I’ve never been to a football like that crazy. Never,” Lyle said with a laugh. “The whole time throughout the game people kept calling my name, Tone’s name and Ben’s name, so that tells how bad they all want us. They were really great fans. Everything was great.”

Tone would be five-star Oak Ridge (Orlando) shooting guard Antonio Blakeney, on the fourth of his five official visits, and Ben would be Scout’s No. 2 overall player Ben Simmons, longtime LSU commit and Montverde Academy forward in town on an unofficial visit.

While it’s long been known that Blakeney and Simmons, Each 1 Teach 1 teammates on the EYBL summer circuit, are close, Lyle indicated his relationship with both could play an important in his recruitment before things are said and done.

Lyle (right) with Simmons

When asked how he got involved with LSU in the first place, Lyle responded, “I mean the connection is Ben, just being a part of the recruiting thing, and the opportunity to be able to play with him and then to maybe play with Blakeney as well.

“I feel like we can do some special things at LSU if we both decide to go there with Ben. It’s just crazy. Coach [Johnny] Jones is great, too. It’s just overall a real nice place to be if me and Blakeney do end up there.”

Lyle stressed that while the thought of playing with Blakeney is very enticing, he knows each will have to make a decision for himself. “No we’re not a package deal,” he continued. “We’re just real cool, and if the opportunity is to happen, it happens.”

Hosted by sophomore forward Jarell Martin, Lyle enjoyed his time with the team and mentioned he could see himself in the fold at LSU both on and off the court. A conversation with Jones only solidified the former in his eyes.

On the camaraderie: “I spent the most time with Jarell, Tim [Quarterman] and Jalyn [Patterson]. Me and Tone and Ben, we spent most of our time with them. It was just a good connection. It was good all around. I felt like I fit in with the guys really well, and me and Tone really liked it.”

On the chat with Jones: “He told me I can play several positions at LSU – the one, the two and the three. There’s a lot of freedom within the offense. He just told me I should fit in really well, and I totally agree with him, with everything they do and what they run. I feel like I fit in with their offense.”

Much of the chatter surrounding Lyle recently centers on his eligibility and when he may be able to suit up on the college level. It’s been suggested he may go somewhere as a midseason enrollee, able to play for a program beginning in January of this coming season a la Jarnell Stokes at Tennessee in 2012.

“I’ll be qualified for January, but I think I’m going to stay and wait until next year to go,” explained Lyle, who will remain and play at IMG Academy in the meanwhile. “I’ll probably sign in the late period, but I won’t make a verbal that late.”

Other programs in the hunt for the reclassified 2015 player include Indiana, Missouri and Oregon. Lyle also listed Ohio State and Xavier as two possibilities, saying both are in contact with him frequently.

He’s unsure about a visit schedule at this point.

But after a good trip to TigerTown, and with pied piper Ben Simmons guaranteed to be there, Lyle will keep LSU on his short list.

“It’s just a great place,” Lyle concluded. “Really great.”

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