JaQuan Lyle was looking for a challenge and a chance to broaden his horizons.
That’s why after three years as a star at his high school in Evansville, Ind., he opted to go outside his comfort zone and spend his senior season at Huntington (W.Va.) Prep.
The 6-5 Lyle, one of the nation’s top shooting guards, is still working on finalizing his college decision. He is rated as the nation’s No. 22 prospect overall and No. 7 at the shooting guard position in the 247Sports Composite rankings for the 2014 class.
He has made visits to Connecticut, Memphis and Arizona previously and will visit Kansas this weekend. He may make at least one more official visit and perhaps some unofficial ones as well before signing in the late period in April.
“I like it a lot here at Huntington Prep,” Lyle said. “We have lost a few games, but we just couldn’t make plays in the crunch, we could have won them. Overall I love it here and I am glad I am here.”
Huntington Prep has featured any number of top prospects in the past including O.J. Mayo and Andrew Wiggins (now at Kansas) last year. The Irish went 30-3 with Wiggins leading the way a year ago.
This year, Huntington Prep is off to a 14-4 start. Lyle has been the team’s leading scorer so far as he has averaged 19.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 4.0 steals per game. He had a season-high 41 points against Minford in a lopsided win as well as 28 points in a recent loss at Indianapolis Arsenal Tech, which features Lyle’s former AAU teammate Trey Lyles.
“I think I’m scoring the ball real well right now,” Lyle said. “I am working a lot on my catch-and-shoot shots. I just have to get a lot better.”
Lyle was a standout on the AAU circuit last spring and summer, first with the Spiece Indy Heat and later with the Mac Irvin Fire teams.
Lyle is averaging 19.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.6 apg and 4.0 spg at Huntington Prep
He played in 13 games in the competitive Nike EYBL for Spiece. In those games, he averaged 14.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.8 steals per game. He hit 33 percent of his three-pointers (10 of 30) and 52.3 percent of his field goals.
“There aren't that many players who can do what Lyle is capable of when in good shape and fully engaged,” said 247Sports.com basketball recruiting editor Jerry Meyer, who scouted Lyle many times over the last three years. “He has a physical game where he can get separation with cleverness and a burst.
“More importantly, he tops that ability off with impressive vision and an ability to deliver the basketball. Best as a playmaking forward, Lyle can also score. His strengths, no doubt though, are making plays for others in the interior of the defense and rebounding his position.”
Lyle was a standout at Bosse High School since his freshman year, when he averaged 15.4 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.7 assists. As a sophomore, he averaged 18 points, eight rebounds and six assists. As a junior last year, he upped those totals to 27 points, 13.4 rebounds and 6.8 assists as Bosse went 19-6 and reached the regional round in the postseason.
Last spring, Lyle made the decision to transfer to Huntington Prep. Irish coach Rob Fulford talked about what he sees in Lyle as a basketball talent.
“We knew from a talent standpoint what he brought to the table,” Fulford said. “He can play different positions because of his size. He is a bigger guard who can take smaller guards into the post. With bigger guards, he is quick enough to go by them. His shot is improving.
“The biggest thing he has to work on is getting his body right and getting into shape and changing his body type. That just takes dedication and hard work to do it.
“He has done a good job early on. It’s hard for kids to pack up and move away from home. We did struggle a little bit (in December). He had a good first semester, not a great one. I think he knows the things he has to work on.”
Lyle at Huntington Prep (Photo by Randy Sartin/MaxPreps.com)
Lyle has a desire to be able to play the point and shooting guard positions at the college level. Fulford discussed how he has used Lyle this season.
“We use him more as a combo guard,” Fulford said. “We toss around numbers about what a kid needs to play or should play. But the biggest thing JaQuan has to understand about playing the point guard going forward is you have to be able to defend that position. Right now, unless he gets his body right, he will struggle guarding the 5-10 to 6-1, lightning quick point guard.
“He can play the one on offense. Defensively is where he must improve. I don’t know that he will be a true point guard (at the college level). I know he is looking to run the one.”
When asked where colleges see him playing, Lyle said, “A lot of schools talk about my passing ability and my playmaking ability. I think some see me as a point guard and some see me as a combo guard.”
The Prep Scene
A year ago, Wiggins drew out his college decision until the spring before he decided to enroll at Kansas. All the while, he led Huntington Prep to wins all over the U.S.
“Obviously, having Andrew here has helped us to develop our brand and our reputation nationally as far as players wanting to come here,” Fulford said. “The flip side of that is you’re everybody’s Super Bowl now. You get everybody’s best shot. This year’s team has not responded well to teams coming at them.
“We’ve lost four games. We haven’t lost that many in the last couple of years. This team has not responded as well at teams coming at them. The rankings and the name don’t mean anything once you get between the lines and the tip goes up. We have to do a better job of getting the kids to understand they have to bring it on a daily basis.
Lyle leads star-laden roster at Huntington Prep (Photo by Randy Sartin/MaxPreps.com)
“We have six or seven top-100 guys and sometimes maybe they take it for granted how they have to play. We have to come together and play as a team.”
Besides Lyle, Huntington Prep has two more national top-100 seniors in 6-2 point guard Josh Perkins (ranked 41st nationally by 247Sports.com) and 6-6 power forward Jalen Lindsey (ranked 67th). Perkins, averaging 9.4 points per game, is ticketed for Gonzaga. Lindsey has signed with Providence.
Huntington Prep boasts a pair of national top-100 prospects in the 2015 class with 6-5 shooting guard Montaque Gill-Caesar (ranked 35th nationally by 247Sports.com) and 6-10 center Levi Cook (ranked 100th, verbaled already to West Virginia). Gill-Caesar is second to Lyle in scoring at Prep at 17.5 points per game.
“He’s a terrific talent,” Fulford said of Gill-Caesar, who already has offers from Kansas, Michigan State, Illinois and others. “He’s had some really good games and some subpar games. It’s been the flow of the offense and teams getting into us and being physical.”
Huntington Prep also has a highly rated sophomore in 6-5 small forward Mike Bridges. Bridges, ranked 16th nationally in the 2016 class by 247Sports.com, is averaging 9.2 points per game this season.
The College Decision
Lyle is one of three national top-25 prospects in the 2014 class who have not made a college decision yet. The others are Texas center Myles Turner (ranked seventh) and Nevada shooting guard Rashad Vaughn (ranked ninth).
“(Lyle is) up and down and all over the map with who he likes,” he said. “It changes. Kids are kids. They are hot and cold. In college, they watch who’s winning. It’s so early, I’m not sure he knows what he is looking for.”
Lyle was asked what he is looking for with his college choice.
“I will look for the relationship the coach has with the players,” he said. “That will be big for me. I know in my freshman year, I will probably hit a slump. I will need that support behind me. I need to know that my coaching staff and teammates will be right behind me and support me through it all.”
He admitted he is looking forward to visiting Kansas, which hosts Kansas State for a key game this weekend.
“They talk about me being able to come in and make an impact right away,” Lyle said. “Coach Self is what it is and Kansas is what it is. It’s a great school. They’ve won like 10 straight Big 12 championships.”
It helps that Kansas has already locked up blue chip big man Cliff Alexander, Lyle’s close friend and the No. 3 player in the 2014 class.
“Everybody knows, Cliff is a good friend of mine,” Lyle said. “He’s dying to get me there. He thinks he has me locked but I’m still thinking about it and I don’t know yet.”
Besides Kansas, Connecticut, Memphis and Arizona, Lyle said other schools he may consider include Oregon, Florida State, West Virginia, Memphis, Providence and Xavier. He has had contact with Indiana and head coach Tom Crean as well in the past, but it’s unclear if the Hoosiers are still in the running.
That message hasn’t set in with contributors to the 247Sports Crystal Ball: They still have Indiana with a 47 percent chance to land Lyle, followed by Kansas (30 percent), Memphis (9 percent), Louisville (7 percent) and Oregon (5 percent).
“Whenever I decide a college fits me, that’s when I will know,” he said.
Click here for highlights of Lyle in action.
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