Analysis: Mark Lyons chooses Arizona Wildcats


Former Xavier Musketeers combo guard Mark Lyons was looking for a transfer, and his choices were Arizona, Kentucky, Kansas, Syracuse, and UCLA at first. That list was narrowed down to Arizona, Kentucky, and Kansas (in that order of likelihood). The star guard has chose to play for the Arizona Wildcats, and the team was the favorite throughout the entire process. Although it has nothing to do with the fact that Wildcats coach Sean Miller recruited Lyons to Xavier, Arizona was just the best fit of those three teams.

KU was one of the top three schools in this transfer saga, but there wasn’t much of a chance of him to come to Lawrence. Travis Releford and Elijah Johnson already make up a great backcourt in Kansas, so there would have been no space for Mark Lyons; unless if Johnson wanted to yield the starting point guard position to Lyons. He is a talented player, but he wants to play at the point and is, truthfully, a better 2 at this point.

Johnson has waited for quite some time to be the starter for the Jayhawks, and it would have complicated things if Lyons went to Kansas. Those complications may not have been worth it, so it is probably a good thing that Lyons went to UA. Besides, he’s going to star there and wouldn’t have been as good of a fit in Kansas. I mean, Releford and Johnson are two top guards.

The 6’1″ senior has a great relationship with the coaching staff over there, and Mark Lyons will look to build on last year 18.5 PER campaign at Xavier. He averaged 15 points per game and had a terrific 49.5 eFG%. More importantly, Lyons cut down on his turnovers and became a slightly better passer.

He still needs to work on his defense, which is steadily improving as well. Lyons is an efficient player, but I still think he’s better as a shooting guard due to his ability to score. He uses up a lot of possessions and is a combo/shooting guard who will be a bit worse (think: 17 PER as opposed to 19.5 PER) at the point.

This is what I told Blake Lovell of Busting Brackets in a Q&A with the site when asked about Mark Lyons.

"BB: You knew we’d get here, but let’s talk about Xavier transfer Mark Lyons. Do you think he joins the Jayhawks?JS: To be honest, I think Mark Lyons ends up going to the Arizona Wildcats. It’s because they have the bigger need for a shooting guard who thinks he’s a point guard, and that’s not a knock on Lyons. He will end up being a solid PG, but he isn’t the best passer around and uses up too many possessions to be the combo guard who transitions to point guard. He has the ability to be a quality point guard, but he’s a great shooting guard and is a very good pure scorer.The Jayhawks already have a good point guard for next year in Elijah Johnson. so we don’t need Lyons. He is a talented player, but he would complicate things and cause morale issues on the team. If he doesn’t end up being the point guard, then he is either A) Not going to come here or B) Not going to be happy. Johnson is the better point guard than Lyons, but Lyons is the better player due to his proficiency as a 2.In the end, Lyons either ends up starring for Arizona or being a key player for the Kentucky Wildcats next season. To me, KU is the third wheel. We also have Travis Releford at shooting guard, so there isn’t much of a fit there. If the Jayhawks do get Lyons and relegate Johnson to the bench, then, unless if Johnson embraces a bench role, there will be problems. I don’t think Bill Self wants to risk that, and the only way Lyons goes to KU is if these three things happen. 1. He really likes Kansas and/or Self (but mainly Kansas) 2. He’s fine with being a combo guard and playing less minutes, which falls into No. 1 3. Johnson doesn’t mind playing less minutes."

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