It’s Time to See What Ohio State’s JaQuan Lyle Is All About

Posted by Jerry Scherwin Jr. on November 17th, 2016

When JaQuan Lyle signed on the dotted line for Ohio State that cold January day back in 2015, I thought the Buckeyes were on the verge of doing something really special — yet again. Lyle was the last shoe to drop in a top-10 class (according to ESPN) that included four other four-star recruits, but there was never a question as to who was most important. The point guard just had that look to him. He was one of the most versatile point guards in the country with great size, plus-side athleticism, hidden strength and an innate ability to make things happen with the ball in his hands. If Frank Sinatra has the world on a string, Lyle has every Spalding. Admittedly, I fell in love with Lyle’s recruiting profiles and mix tapes. Despite the rocky road to get to Columbus, the kid looked like the next evolution of the Buckeyes’ point guard.

JaQuan Lyle (USA Today Images)

It’s Becoming JaQuan Lyle’s Time to Put Up or Shut Up (USA Today Images)

His freshman season was inconsistent. There were moments that reminded me of why I was the self-proclaimed captain of the Lyle hype machine. And then there were moments when Lyle looked lost, unhappy and uninterested. In a sport where prospects become stars by staying connected to that fine line that is consistency, Lyle’s play more closely resembled a kindergartner’s idea of mountains and hills. He was both infuriating and electric. And you could tell that it was getting to Thad Matta and the coaching staff (remember the Michigan State game in the Big Ten Tournament?). Despite the red flags that became rather prevalent, most of the media that surrounded the Ohio State basketball program kept their Lyle blinders on. I did too. That’s not to say that we all weren’t going into this season being cautious, but the agreed-upon ceiling for Lyle was just too high to fail.

Plus, there have been plenty of times that perceived star players took an extra year of seasoning before bursting through that mental wall. Former Buckeye Evan Turner is Exhibit A. High school, prep and travel basketball are nothing compared to the fickle beast that is the Big Ten. Things are different. Guys are bigger. Guards are just as fast. Coaches game plan ways to shut down star players while also keeping a lid on the paint. The angles and space and openings that were once there for a couple of seconds in travel ball close in the flash of an eye now. Players have to adjust. Players have to get rid of their individuality. Players have to mature.

And it’s here in mid-November 2016 that we find Lyle. Through two games, we have witnessed the same kid. In an opening night win against Navy, he played 13 minutes, was 1-of-3 from the field and logged just as many assists as turnovers (two). Against North Carolina Central, more of the same. While his minutes nearly doubled, Lyle was still mostly “meh,” having gone 2-of-6 from the field with two assists and one turnover. We are now — already — at the point in Lyle’s sophomore season when it’s time for the talented young player to step up and become the guy those of us still on the Lyle Bandwagon know he can be before he gets passed by (C.J. Jackson is knocking at the door and about ready to start kicking it open).

Lyle is a tremendous player, but there have been plenty of tremendous players that never played up to their potential. Those that eventually turned the corner all had pivotal moments — the type of games when the light bulb not only flickered, but permanently turned on. Tonight against Providence is the perfect time for Lyle to reconnect the wires before the power gets turned off altogether.

Jerome Scherwin Jr. (2 Posts)

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *