Sean Miller just found his bridge to the future – and maybe a Pac-12 basketball championship.
The University of Arizona head coach reportedly just got a commitment from Mark Lyons, who has decided to leave Xavier University and give the Wildcats his final year of eligibility. Arizona has yet to formally announce the addition, but the internet is buzzing after Lyons sent out a twitter message Sunday announcing his decision, and has since confirmed it to media outlets.
Lyons, a 6’3″ point guard with great stats, will fill the one-year void that Miller will have at the point-guard position, as he waits for T.J. McConnell to sit out a season after transferring in from Duquesne.
If Lyons finishes his degree requirements at Xavier, he will be able to enroll as a graduate student at Arizona – making him eligible to play without sitting out a year. An online course is supposedly all that needs to be completed.
Miller knows very well what he is getting in the New York native; he recruited him to Xavier while still that school’s head coach before leaving for Tucson. Miller didn’t actually have Lyons on the floor as a Musketeer because the youngster redshirted his freshman year, and Miller was gone the next year.
The decision to head for the desert to re-join Miller wasn’t a slam-dunk. Lyons made a visit to Kentucky and was also said to be considering Kansas. That says something about the calibre of talent he will bring to Tucson.
But Miller won out and now appears to have the final piece of the puzzle that will enable the Cats to compete with UCLA for next season’s Pac-12 crown.
The fourth-year head coach thought he had next season well in hand, as his five-star recruit, Josiah Turner, was going to have a freshman season of seasoning and be ready to take the reins as the point guard of the future.
But Turner had a difficult time adjusting to Miller’s team rules and, after being suspended a couple of times last season, left the program in mid-April.
McConnell was a great snag, but Miller needs to deal with the coming season. He had what most observers consider the No. 1 recruiting class in the country coming in this summer, but he desperately needed a seasoned point guard to pull it all together.
And that’s where Lyons comes in. As a Musketeer, he started 66 games, so he’s got the seasoning. Over his three years at Xavier, he averaged 12.2 points (15.1 last year) and 2.6 assists – but was used primarily as a No. 2 guard. And next season, it would be even more crowded at the point; he would have been one of three available to play the coveted position.
Miller evidently has the confidence to put him at the point when he arrives in Tucson. If it works out, look for the Cats to go deep in the post-season.