Longtime Syracuse fan Lydon becomes first Class of 2015 commit
Tyler Lydon was a Syracuse basketball fan long before he was a Division I basketball prospect.
A Pine Plains, N.Y., native, Lydon’s father Tim always had SU on television. He raised Lydon and his two brothers to support, as Tim put it, “the best college team New York has to offer.”
By the time he was 12 years old, Lydon was wearing a blue Syracuse beanie and hooded sweatshirt with regularity. He didn’t just watch SU play, he started to fall in love with its 2-3 zone, fast-break offense and winning ways.
At the same time, he was excelling on the basketball court. He was always a standout, but when an unforeseen growth spurt met his natural skill at the beginning of high school, colleges started to take notice.
Florida. Boston College. Maryland. Vanderbilt. Iowa. Virginia.
There was one problem — it wasn’t Syracuse.
Then the phone rang in late July before Lydon’s sophomore season. It was Syracuse assistant coach Mike Hopkins. The Orange wanted him to come to the Carrier Dome for its home game against West Virginia.
Tim Lydon was home early from work and in the backyard. When his son told him who was on the phone, he thought he was “messing around.”
“I’ll never forget my dad’s face,” Lydon said. “He was convinced I was lying, and here we are now.”
On Oct. 17, more than two years after Hopkins called, Lydon became the first player to verbally commit to Syracuse for the Class of 2015. Lydon attracted many high-caliber schools with an all-around skill set stuffed into his 6-foot-8, 185-pound frame. But now that his lifelong dream of playing at Syracuse is tangible, he’s working harder than he ever has.
“Our family, top to bottom, always hoped Tyler would play at Syracuse,” Tim Lydon said. “We were very grateful that a lot of schools contacted him, but when the Orange started talking, well, we really started to listen.”
Like many successful journeys, Lydon’s started at home.
The Lydons’ home in Pine Plains sits on a hill – Lydon once developed his skills on a makeshift court at the top of his steep driveway. But when Tim Lydon recognized his son’s passion, he started a new project.
At the bottom of the driveway, Tim Lydon cleared space for a full half court with a new hoop, and even drew the lines in white paint so his son could start to visualize game situations while he practiced.
The finishing touches were put on the court when Lydon was 10 years old and the only thing that kept Lydon off the court, his father said, was “a foot of snow or six inches of ice.”
“I always knew he could play, but then he just fell in love with the game,” Tim Lydon said. “I’d say he’s responsible for bringing his own game to the next level.”
After playing for three years at Pine Plains High School, Lydon decided he needed to take another step. He said the players he was playing against were focusing on other sports like football and baseball, and that a more competitive environment would better prepare him for the collegiate level.
That decision led him to the New Hampton (N.H.) School, where he is currently prepping for his first season with the Huskies as a reclassified junior. With the extra year of eligibility, Lydon, a hybrid forward, is working to find his strengths and build his basketball identity around them.
“I was always in favor of him reclassifying, we knew even before he committed that he was going to,” Tim Lydon said. “It’s just another year to develop which he can use.”
It is likely that in the coming year and half, Lydon will be joined by some of the nation’s top talent in Syracuse’s Class of 2015.
But for now, he stands as the lone representation of the Orange’s distant future. Being the first to pledge to a top-tier school is both daunting and commendable, but it’s something that has hardly crossed Lydon’s mind.
“I’m not really thinking too much of it right now,” Lydon said. “I’m just focusing on this season and getting better so that when I get to Syracuse, I’ll be ready to play.”
Published on November 5, 2013 at 12:40 am