It is only five games into Tyler Lydon's Syracuse career, but it's quite clear that Lydon is a superstar in the making. He had a solid debut, snagging 11 rebounds, blocking two shots and snatching three steals. But he shot just 1-5 from the field, including 0-3 from beyond the arc.
Since then? Oh, just shooting 53% overall and 64% from three-point range. Oh, and he's shooting over 81% from the free-throw line as well to go along with 8 rebounds, nearly three blocks and more than a steal per game. No big deal.
Then consider his best performance, a 16 point, 12 rebound outing where he hit two of his three attempts from the outside, was against old Big East Rival UConn who was ranked 18th in the country entering the game. It was easily the best team Syracuse had faced thus far, and Lydon stepped up accordingly. All of this after an 18 point, 6 block performance against Charlotte the night before.
Not only was he extremely active defensively despite the lack of corresponding statistics, but he crashed the boards against a bigger, more experienced Huskies front line. He helped the Orange will the rebounding battle, a key to the upset victory.
Add to that Lydon's offensive prowess, including drilling some critical shots when Connecticut was threatening to pull away. After five straight points, Lydon drilled a three to cut the lead in half early on. Then again seven minutes into the second half, Lydon hit his second three-pointer to knot the game at 44.
"Tyler Lydon's done an unbelievable job in the middle on defense," head coach Jim Boeheim said after the win on Thursday. "Offensively, he sees things that seniors don't see. He sees slips and plays that nobody sees. And nothing bothers the kid. He's had two monsterous games down here."
During an importan 11-4 run minutes later, Lydon grabbed three rebounds and hit two three-throws. He was involved with nearly every big moment for Syracuse.
With 3:32 to go, after UConn had just trimmed a 10 point Orange lead to two, Lydon made another big shot to extend the advantage to two possessions. Over the next couple of minutes, he snagged a couple more rebounds, made a free-throw, and blocked a shot by Connecticut's Rodney Purvis.
"The block he made, he stayed down, he waited," Boeheim said. "Then he just blocked it. Seniors don't make those plays. The plays he makes, seniors don't make. They really don't. He had a great prep school coach and he's really well prepared."
Lydon can do it all. He can shoot, he can drive, he can post-up, he can pass, defend, crash the boards and run the floor. His athleticism, intelligence and skill combined with his length makes him a player that just oozes talent. Not to mention, Lydon has that clutch gene. The ability to make big plays no matter the moment.
No he does not start, but Lydon plays starters minutes at over 30 per game. Yes he is on a team with a senior backcourt expected to lead this team. And largely they will. But if Lydon continues to play, develop and improve at his current clip, he may be their best player by the time the season ends. Heck, you could make the argument that he is now.
Lydon is a star in the making. Someone that will have the attention of everyone both locally and nationally. Someone that scouts at the next level will drool over. All of those accolades are warrnted.
Tyler Lydon is simply a special talent.