Good morning, Big Blue Nation. Ready for some Kentucky Wildcats Morning Headlines after that three-day weekend? Hrmph. Me either. But at least it’s just a four day week now although that seems like little consolation right now.
We all know that Kentucky basketball was not at full strength during the recent Bahamas Tour as both Willie Cauley – Stein and Trey Lyles missed action due to injuries. We all know what WCS can and will do, but what about Lyles. Will missing action in the Bahamas set him back? And what can we expect from Lyles when he is ready to play?
Primarily, Lyles is the only truly skilled low-post scorer whom coach John Calipari has in this all-stud stable. His footwork is strong and his array of moves and counter-moves dwarfs that of his more athletic teammates.
In a half-court offense, Lyles is UK’s only real threat to score on a lefty hook or a turnaround jumper. Towns possesses the ability to do so, but he’ll need to prove that he’s willing to fight through the constant contact. Inasmuch as that’s a major facet of UK’s offense, Lyles will be a valuable piece.
Last season, though, most of Kentucky’s baskets near the rim came on drives and offensive rebounds. Based on Hoop-Math.com’s figures, only 32 percent of Kentucky’s two-point baskets were assisted last season. A further 17.2 percent came on putbacks.
Lyles is a capable offensive rebounder, but so are Cauley-Stein, Lee, Poythress and Johnson. The latter three combined for 36 offensive boards in the Bahamas, with Towns chipping in another 15. If Calipari feels that he can count on this sort of dominance against American college teams, Lyles could be in for a long season.
Of course, it’s easy to speculate on what Lyles will bring to this team, but to get the real story … just ask him.
“I’m versatile,” Lyles said. “I can play a couple different positions. I’m a team-first guy. I make the open pass, I make open shots. I just do whatever it takes to win.”
Lyles said he’s watched a lot of film recently of Scottie Pippen because of their physical similarities, as well as Tim Duncan because of his attention to detail and fundamentals.
One guy Lyles won’t compare himself to is UK’s leading scorer and rebounder from a year ago, Julius Randle. While it’s easy to assume Lyles will fill the void Randle left because of their similar frames and position, Lyles is more of a face-up four than he is a bruiser, though he’s quite adept at scoring in the paint as well.
“We’re both rebounders and we’re both aggressive, but once the season gets underway I think people are going to start making their own comparisons,” Lyles said. “I’m going to do whatever Coach wants me to do. If he wants me to rebound, to assist, to play defense, be a leader (I’ll do it). Just whatever he needs me to do.”
The visitor list for Big Blue Madness continued to grow over the long weekend and has not become one=ce again a veritable “Who’s Who in high school basketball”. Jaylen BRown is the latest to get the golden ticket for BBM.
Five-star small forward Jaylen Brown is coming to Lexington on an official visit for Big Blue Madness, according to a ZagsBlog report on Saturday morning. Brown — a 6-foot-7 prospect from Georgia — had been saying for weeks that a trip to Madness was possible.
The Big Blue Madness confirmed guest list now includes Brown, UK commitment Charles Matthews, top class of 2015 targets Carlton Bragg, Stephen Zimmerman and Brandon Ingram, and top class of 2016 targets Derryck Thornton and Tyus Battle. That list is expected to grow between now and the Oct. 17 event. Malik Newman and Ivan Rabb are among may other star players who have mentioned the possibility of a Madness visit.
Brown is ranked as the No. 1 overall prospect in the class of 2015 by Scout.com, and the No. 2 prospect by Rivals.com and 247Sports. He is also considering Kansas, UCLA, Georgia and Georgia Tech.