October 17, 2012

Lyles looking for opportunities beyond basketball

Tom Lyles, the father of five-star 2014 forward Trey Lyles, chooses his words very carefully when talking about his son's recruitment. After all, Lyles is quick to point out, that for Trey, the recruiting process is a once in a lifetime experience.

After taking an unofficial visit to Kentucky for Big Blue Madness, Lyles had plenty to say about the family's trip to Lexington; but very little of the conversation actually focused on basketball.

"I don't think we really considered the trip to be a visit," Lyles told Cats Illustrated, "It was more like an opportunity to take in the Big Blue Madness and just enjoy ourselves. We had been to the campus before, so we looked at the event as more of a chance to be around the guys."

With schools like Kentucky, Louisville, North Carolina, Duke and Michigan State constantly being connected to the top ten junior forward from Indianapolis (Ind.) Arsenal Tech, the basketball aspect of college is not what interests either Tom or Trey Lyles. It's the long-term that the family is focused on, such as how connections made in college can help Trey later on in life.

"The most important thing to us is life after college basketball; whether that is at the professional level or a non-basketball job." Lyles said. "What are guys doing after they leave a school? Are they prepared for the next step of their lives?

At some point in time the ball does stop bouncing, so we want to make sure that Trey makes the right relationships at school to prepare him for his future. The response to that at Kentucky has been unbelievable."

A huge part of that experience that the Lyles' are looking for comes from having a close-knit relationship with the head coach of the program. While they are looking for a coach that will push Trey to reach new levels on and off the court, Tom says that someone whom Trey can relate and communicate to is even more important.

"The relationship that the guys have with coach Calipari is special. We immediately noticed how many former players there are that love to come back and still be a part of that Kentucky family. That right there says a lot. That says something about the program, the school, the tradition, but most importantly, the head coach."

After returning home from Lexington on Friday night, the Lyles family was quick to ascertain that not only does Kentucky offer a great basketball opportunity for Trey, but the overall experience of playing basketball at an elite program like UK can lead to relationships that last forever.

"What Trey takes in is just the way that things work in different programs," said Lyles, "The relationship that the guys have with the coaching staff is something that we really pay attention to.

"The turnout was just amazing. Not many places can get over 24,000 for a non-basketball game. I looked at Big Blue Madness more of an opening ceremony for what's to come. The event was extremely impressive."

As for the recruitment of his son, Lyles claims that Trey is still wide open since he de-committed from Indiana last month. After withdrawing his verbal commitment from the Hoosiers the 6-foot-10 forward has received a scholarship offer from Kentucky; but is still somewhat wide-eyed in how the recruitment process works; since he had originally committed to Indiana so young that he did not understand the ramifications.

"There really is no official list right now. What people have to remember is that this whole recruiting thing is so new to him. This is basically his first time going through the process. It's just a matter of taking all the information in, during this once in a lifetime experience, and taking notes. Coaching styles, philosophy, program history, success of players during their college years and after, these are all things we're trying to take notes of.

"He does like Kentucky a lot, but that's not to say that Kentucky is the definite place where he will go."

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