Recently JaQuan Lyle narrowed his list down to six schools, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisville, Ohio State, and Tennessee. Of those six, all but Illinois made it in this week for home visits. Also UCLA received an unofficial visit last weekend before the Nike EYBL Los Angeles, and now the Bruins are somewhat of a factor as well.
The first school to make a visit was Florida. For Lyle it was a good chance to sit face-to-face with Gator boss Billy Donovan.
"It was the first time I ever spoke with Coach Donovan in person," said Lyle. "We had spoken a lot on the phone, and he always seemed like a good dude, and then in person he broke everything down to me in terms of how he sees me and how I fit in with their style of play. It is all pick and roll and the guards have a lot of freedom, so it was a great visit. It was the first time I met him and I think things went well."
Unlike the rest of the schools, Florida is located more than a drive from his Evansville home, but Lyle says distance won't be a factor.
"(Donovan) asked me if I was afraid to leave, but it doesn't play a role in my decision," explained Lyle. "I mean if I think it is best for me to go away from home then I will make that decision. Distance doesn't really matter to me. It is about what is best for my future after college."
After Florida, fellow SEC school Tennessee came in with assistant coach Tracy Webster as well as head coach Cuonzo Martin.
"Coach Webster and Coach Martin are real good guys," said Lyle. "I think they really care about me as a person more than a player. I know that is something I am going to need, someone who is caring and loving."
He continued, "Caring is what Coach Martin and Coach Webster are. They have a great staff and a great program. Honestly we really didn't talk much about basketball. We talked about how much of a family program it is. That visit went real well."
The third visit came from Thad Matta and Ohio State. The Buckeyes made it clear to Lyle that they felt he could come in and fill a role right away.
"I really like Ohio State," said Lyle. "It is a real good program, and Coach Matta talked about how Aaron Craft will be leaving when I get to school. He said they need a playmaker and someone who can come in and play right away. He told me that he could see me coming in right away and getting minutes from day one. That visit went well with him and Coach (Dave) Dickerson."
On Wednesday afternoon Louisville and head coach Rick Pitino came in, and according to Lyle the Cardinals head coach made a major impression.
"Coach Pitino is a Hall of Fame coach," noted Lyle. "He just won the national championship, and he was saying how I need to think big. He said you have to think about how you are going to make money and how you are going to live after college. It isn't just about basketball. It is about education and thinking about the greater picture. He just dropped a lot of stuff on me that I didn't know about. He said a lot of things about life, and it was a great visit with him and Coach (Kevin) Keatts."
The final visit came on Wednesday night when Indiana boss Tom Crean made his pitch to Lyle, and stressed the improvement that he feels Lyle could make in the Hoosier program.
"You know how Coach Crean is, he's always ready to go," said Lyle. "It was very interesting. He is a great guy and he talked a lot about the team and academics. Also he talked about player development in the program, and how it has been since he has been there. I agree with it to. Victor Oladipo wasn't even a top 100 player and now he is going to be a top 10 pick in the NBA Draft."
He went on about IU, "I think that is crazy because when I saw (Oladipo) as a freshman and sophomore I thought he was a good player but not like great, and now he is going to be a lottery pick. We talked about player development a lot and how the program is with academics and how they care for you as a person. I think that visit went real well."
While Illinois didn't have a chance to make an in-home visit, however Lyle says not much should be read into that.
"I did talk to Illinois," said Lyle. "I spoke with Coach (Jamall) Walker and our schedules just didn't match. My high school coach, Coach (Shane) Burkhart, had already scheduled some of my visits and they were set and I had workouts and things around here, so the schedules didn't mix. Illinois is hard on me and this doesn't knock them out of the picture, it is just something where our schedules didn't match up right."
The one wildcard right now is UCLA. While the Bruins didn't make his initial list of six, new coach Steve Alford is saying he wants to recruit Lyle, and Lyle is listening.
"I went to visit UCLA and I talked to Coach Alford this weekend," explained Lyle. "He hasn't seen me play yet, but he said he will see me in Virginia this weekend. I guess there is a future, but we will see after this weekend. If they don't offer after this weekend I will just keep it at my six."
At the moment no decision seems imminent for the No. 12 overall prospect, but the visits did help him get a better feel for things.
"This helped me to get to know the coaches a lot because it was the first time for me getting to meet with a lot of the coaches on a serious note and talk about academics and the program," said Lyle. "It was great. I spoke to the coaches on another level. They all told me good things and also they told me things I didn't want to hear. I know that is what I need to hear though. They just dropped stuff on me that I needed to know. It was just a very humbling experience."
Up next for Lyle is the EYBL-Hampton event where he and his Spiece Indy Heat teammates will look to improve from their showing in Los Angeles.