April 11, 2012

Five Star Guard Working Hard on Improving

Motivation is what often separates great potential from great production. Many players in today's era get caught up in the hype of hearing just how great their talent is. Few have the competitive drive to mold that talent into a skill-set to make them a dominant player. Jaquan Lyle might just be one of those players.

The five star guard, and number 8 overall prospect, in the class of 2014 can't stay out of the gym. "I'm in the gym nonstop just trying to get better," Lyle told MusketeerScoop, "I think that's why I'm starting to get ranked near the top of my class. I'm always working on my jumper and the rest of my game."

Being so hyped at such a young age can have its downsides. But it's nothing new to a kid like Lyle. The 6'4 180 pound wing from Bosse HS in Evansville, IN has some mentors to look up to. Lyle is a member of the powerhouse Spiece Indy Heat AAU organization. The same organization has produced top ranked national talents like Mike Conley and Greg Oden. Now it's Lyle's turn to shine. Playing on a squad with several premiere younger prospects, who will compete up an age group in the most intense AAU travel circuit around, the Nike EYBL is just one week away.

"A lot of the work I've been putting in is to get ready for this AAU season with my Spiece Indy Heat 17u team. We've got a busy season ahead of us. We're starting off this weekend in Indianapolis in a smaller tournament but then we got to Minneapolis to start the EYBL in front of college coaches and finish the live period in Virginia at the Boo Williams tournament. I'm really excited and blessed to be able to compete in the EYBL because I'll get to face so many great players."

Lyle will be counted on to be one of those players, when you're ranked in the top ten in your class the expectations will be there even if you are a year young. With those expectations can come some added pressure. "When I walk in the gym now a lot of people start whispering my name or pointing fingers at me and what not so it brings a lot more attention and pressure;" Lyle said, "Other players want to prove that I'm not good as people say I am and they want to try and show that they're better then me. So that's why I always keep on working on my game and give it my all every time I step on the court. I can't let anyone outwork me."
The hard work in the gym has paid off for Lyle. He's known throughout the country as one of the elite prospects in his 2014 class as both a passer and a shooter. In fact some scouts have labeled him as the best passer in the class, while others say he is one of the premiere shooters as well.

"Passing just kind of happens for me. It's one of the harder things to work on, but I think a lot of it is just playing a lot of ball and trusting my instincts."

"As far as shooting I hit a lot of shots from three, especially set shots. I'm getting good in the mid-range with one dribble crossover jumpers. Like I said, I'm always in the gym working on my game and shooting is something I take really seriously. Right now I'm hitting something like 65 out of 100 threes in drills, I want that number to keep going up."

With his size and skill-set Lyle presents matchup problems on both the high school and AAU scene, and college coaches project that that will continue to the next level as well. This spring coaches evaluating Lyle at the EYBL will get to see him play multiple positions. "I can run the point when I need to but I think I still need to get quicker before I can play it in college. I try and have a good feel for the game and that allows me to play some point. I think I'm best on the wing because that allows me to look to attack easier. I love to get it on the wing and attack middle and try and make plays; but in college I can see myself playing multiple positions."

Lyle knows that there are areas, such as quickness and strength that he needs to improve on and mentioned the weight room as an area that he will focus on more this offseason to try and catch his body up with his basketball skill.

Mentally Lyle is working on improving his approach as well. Known as a prospect that really plays hard he wants that competitive nature to rub off on all his teammates.

"I've improved as a leader a lot in my mind. Last summer I couldn't really do it being so young and playing 17u but this summer with teams focusing more on me I'm starting to learn how. Our team goal is to get to the Nike Peach Jam (an event in July reserved for the top 16 teams from the regular season of the EYBL). We didn't make it last year so we have to find a way in this season."
Playing in the Peach Jam will also help the exposure of the five star guard who is still wide open in his recruitment. "Making that far will really help my team as individual players. I want to get better this summer but I also want to do all I can do to pick up more scholarship offers. The more options I have the better when it comes time to pick a school."

"My recruitment is picked up even more this year. A lot of schools are constantly calling my high school and AAU coaches. Louisville and Ohio State are probably the two schools that are on me the hardest right now. But there are a lot of others, I talk with Indiana and Purdue a lot. Also, Xavier and West Virginia really like me. I love talking to all these great schools with such good coaches."

Lyle has already seen a good amount of campuses in the Midwest and one of them is Xavier's. "The last time I was at Xavier was in the fall for Musketeer Madness."
Spending the day with the coaches, and building a relationship with them over the phone since, has left a strong impression on the sophomore. "Xavier's a great school and I really like Coach (Chris) Mack and assistant coach (Travis) Steele. They play my type of game; get the rebound and run with it, run some pick and roll and be aggressive. That's exactly my style of play."

While he's still wide open in his recruitment Lyle does know what will be important to him when it comes time to make a decision. "I'm going to choose a school with a great coach and somewhere that I can get a quality education. No matter what happens in basketball I have to go to school."

There's still plenty of time for Lyle to keep improving, handle the pressure, and gain even more exposure with his game so he uses a very simplistic approach as to why he doesn't have any leaders or a timetable for his decision.

"I'm just waiting until the right situation and school comes along. Then I'll know it's time. I'll be ready to make a decision but right now I'm just trying to keep getting better."

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