Back on October 17, 2013, Syracuse got a verbal commitment from a tall, lanky kid named Tyler Lydon. Little did Jim Boeheim know at that point that what they were getting was a guy on his way to becoming a genuine American hero. Or at least, that’s what I’m officially calling him now that he’s been selected to the USA Basketball U18 team.
Right now, Lydon is hovering around the middle of the pack in most top 100 lists, though with his inclusion on the U18 roster and his continued growth as a player and athlete, that’s likely to change for the better through his senior season at the New Hampton School. The native of Pine Plains, New York decided to play for New York’s College Team and it looks like the Orange are getting an extremely skilled, versatile forward with the kind of advanced offensive skillset that the typical Syracuse swingmen don’t generally bring in as freshmen.
That’s because despite being a 6-foot-9 forward, he has a silky smooth shooting stroke and can knock down threes with great regularity. He’s also an underrated athlete, and if we’re being honest here, that’s almost certainly due to the color of his skin. ESPN recently had a breakdown of Lydon in which Paul Biancardi described him as having “deceptive bounce” which is code for saying, “he’s a gangly white kid, he doesn’t look like he should be able to jump.”
Speaking of his hops, here’s a look at his not remotely “deceptive” bounce, as well as a glimpse of his excellent shooting stroke:
In any event, Lydon has good size but needs to get stronger before he can become a real contributor at Syracuse. He’s listed between 180 and 200 pounds depending on which recruiting service you go by, meaning he’s got the same sort of frame that guys like Damone Brown and Hakim Warrick had when they were about the same age. Just like those guys, it could be hard for Lydon to put on much weight but if he can get up to about 210-215 by the time he gets to Syracuse, that’ll be a very good start.
So what position will Lydon play when he gets to Syracuse? That’s the other big question, and it depends largely on who else is on the roster. Defensively, it won’t really matter because he’ll be a wing in the zone no matter which forward position he plays. Offensively the three and the four in Jim Boeheim’s system, and one would presume in Coach Hop’s system whenever he takes over, are also fairly interchangeable, though with Lydon’s shooting stroke you would think he’ll be a guy whose offensive role is a lot more like CJ Fair’s was, rather than Jerami Grant’s this past year.
Of course this is why it’s important for Syracuse to keep pursuing Thomas Bryant, because landing him would allow the Orange to play Moustapha Diagne almost exclusively at the power forward position while Bryant mans the middle.
Either way, Lydon is an exciting prospect and frankly not the typical recruit Boeheim brings in, other than being a long, lean forward with some hops. His ability to stretch the floor is going to pay huge dividends, particularly when paired with guys like fellow recruit Malachi Richardson, as well as Trevor Cooney – who will be a senior when Lydon arrives at SU – and BJ Johnson, who is probably the guy on the roster whose game is most similar to Lydon’s at this stage.
Adding strength is the priority for Lydon no matter where he ends up playing in the Syracuse lineup, otherwise he’ll just get pushed around and struggle to grab boards against the big, physical players in the ACC. If you want to talk ceiling for Lydon, think Chandler Parsons. I think we’d all be pretty happy with that, don’t you?
At the end of the day, we’re just happy to have this American hero coming to Syracuse. Tyler Lydon, we salute you, because you, sir, are a Real American.