I’ve talked about Tyler Lydon a couple times in the past, and the versatile forward is a player a lot of Syracuse fans are going to love watching when he gets to the Hill next season. Lydon is finishing up his high school career at New Hampton Prep in New Hampshire, a school that also sent guys like Lawrence Moten and Todd Burgan to Jim Boeheim’s program. Earlier today, Tyler was gracious enough to give us an interview, in which he let us know what his baseball walk-up song would be, his feelings on the Patriots and, oh yeah, we talked about some basketball, too.
OG: One of the things that trips up a lot of freshmen is adapting to the 2-3 zone. How comfortable are you with Syracuse’s signature defense?
TL: As far as the 2-3 zone goes, my old public school before I transferred to New Hampton, I was there for two years and played varsity and that’s all they actually played, and we studied the Syracuse zone so I’m pretty familiar with it. And also, here at New Hampton we go over Syracuse’s zone so I’m used to playing the back of it. I’ve got a lot of experience with it.
OG: Speaking of New Hampton, do you think finishing up high school at a place like that will help you transition to being on a college campus?
TL: Oh I think it definitely will. As far as the atmosphere goes, it’s a lot like college, with my classes being spread out, and you get a lot of free time to decide what you want to do. I take advantage of that time and go to the gym and stuff like that, and as far as the basketball here, it’s the best league in the country for high school basketball. Every game that I play in, there are Division I kids all over the place, and high majors primarily so the level of competition here is great. I think it’s really been preparing me.
OG: You’re obviously focusing on finishing this year strong, but have you looked ahead at all or talked to the coaches about your role with the Orange next season?
TL: I’ve talked to them a little bit here and there about what my role will be when I get there, and obviously they want me being aggressive on offense. I really don’t try to focus on the future, I want to work to be able to get there and be able to play right away, but right now I’m just trying to focus on school here and everything like that.
OG: You’ve obviously heard this a lot, that right now you’re tall and you’ve got skill, but you’re still skinny. What are you doing to prepare yourself for a more physical style of basketball at the next level?
TL: Well, in terms of being physical, I’ve put on 25 pounds since I’ve been [at New Hampton], so I’m at about 200 pounds right now and I’m trying to add a little more so I’m ready when I get to Syracuse. But I think a lot of people underestimate my strength. I really do like to be inside, banging around and getting rebounds, which I don’t think a lot of people know about me. I don’t think they recognize the fact that I could be a double-digit rebounder.
As far as getting prepared for that, I’m going to try to hit the weight room in the spring and take up my weight and really get to it in the offseason and just get ready.
OG: You’ve got kind of a reputation as being a stretch four, but you’re finally starting to get recognized for your athleticism as well. What are the other things you’re working on right now to round out your game?
TL: Well right now I’m actually playing the three for New Hampton, so right now I’m working on a lot of stuff with my coaches on being a wing, with ball handling and perimeter shooting, and getting my footwork down for coming off screens and being able to shoot, and getting into the paint off the dribble, and pulling up and things like that. I think as much as I’m known for being a stretch four, I’m trying to develop the skill for playing the three, which I enjoy. I like trying to push myself, and I like being uncomfortable so that when I get to Syracuse I’ll be ready for it and I’m starting to get very comfortable playing the three.
OG: You actually just answered my next question. Sounds like you are focusing on becoming a small forward, rather than a power forward at the next level?
TL: Yeah, but honestly though, wherever they can fit me in and I can contribute, that’s where I’ll play. Any position I can play when I get there, I’d love to be able to do that. I don’t really focus on just being good at one thing. If I’m a good three point shooter, I want to work on my dribbling and getting into the paint. I don’t want to be one dimensional.
OG: You’re from New York – how early did you start focusing on Syracuse? Were you a fan growing up?
TL: I was a fan growing up. My dad was a big Syracuse fan growing up and I was, but I just loved watching basketball in general. I actually grew up watching and liking Tyler Hansbrough from North Carolina. I just liked the way he played, so I always liked North Carolina, but I developed a liking for Syracuse probably in middle school. And then when the recruiting process started and they showed interest, I was obviously thrilled. But I was really open to everything, and as a player I had to explore my options because you never know what could come along. I was just letting the recruitment play out, and I was sitting around thinking and sat down with my coach, and talked to a couple people in my family, and I just felt like Syracuse was the best fit for me as a player and as a person. As far as everything goes, I feel like it fits me great.
OG: The obvious comparison you’ve gotten has been Chandler Parsons. Is there anyone else either in the NBA or in college you emulate, or kind of see yourself in?
TL: I mean, I watch Chandler Parsons a lot on YouTube, and I do get a lot of comparisons, but here at New Hampton it’s actually tough to watch many games because we don’t have cable. Whenever I get the chance I watch Kevin Durant, guys who can stretch the floor and are bigger and can shoot and are good at getting to the rim.
OG: Have you been able to keep in touch with the other guys in your recruiting class?
TL: I was actually just talking to Moustapha [Diagne] the other day, we were just catching up with some stuff, but during the season it’s tough. We’re all really busy, so we don’t talk that much during the season, and we’re all trying to just focus. But we are on Twitter, and talking about how we can’t wait to play with each other. I love all the guys, and I can’t wait to get the chance to play with them.
OG: So what kind of player is Syracuse getting with Tyler Lydon?
TL: They’re bringing in a guy who can do a lot of things, and that’s willing to get outside his comfort zone to help contribute to the team. I’m the type of player that I feel – or that I want to be – that can just do multiple things, and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to win. If that means that they don’t need me to score in a game, and they just need rebounds, and stuff off the ball, I’m the type of guy where that’s what I’m going to do. I care about winning a lot, and I’m a huge competitor so whatever it takes to win, that’s what I’ll do.
OG: Alright, moving away from basketball for these last few. Any superpower…what do you choose?
TL: That’s tough. I would say strength. I just think it would be cool to have super strength.
OG: When the story of Tyler Lydon is turned into a movie, who’s the star?
TL: I would have to say Bradley Cooper. I like Bradley Cooper as an actor, especially with his last movie [American Sniper], I thought it was great. So yeah, it’d probably have to be him.
OG: If you played baseball, what would be your walk-up song as you come up to the plate?
TL: Oh geez. Um…that’s a tough one, I don’t know! I’d say maybe Drake’s new song, “Blessings.”
OG: Alright, we’ll get you out of here on this one. Don’t let the fact that you go to school in New England influence you, either. Who you got in the Super Bowl?
TL: I’m going to have to say Seahawks. Honestly, being from New York, I’m not a big fan of the Massachusetts teams. I don’t like the Red Sox, and I don’t like the Patriots, especially, so I’m hoping the Seahawks win. Especially this year, everyone’s a Patriots fan, so just to rub it in their face.
OG: Trust me, I’m from Vermont and I feel the same way. So what’s your prediction for the final score?
TL: I’m going to say 28-24, Seahawks are going to win.