Men's Basketball

Tyler Lydon has ‘no idea’ if he’ll be back with Syracuse next season

Jacob Greenfeld | Asst. Photo Editor

Tyler Lydon dropped 15 points against Mississippi on Saturday. He also grabbed 14 rebounds. It would be his final college game if the sophomore forward declares for the NBA Draft.

Tyler Lydon leaned up against his locker, cheeks red and eyes darting past the cluster of reporters around him, doing his best to deflect the spotlight away. But after a forgettable loss ended a regrettable season, the last thing he wanted to speak on was the first thing on everyone else’s mind.

What’s on your mind moving forward?

Have you had conversations with Jim Boeheim about your future?

What’s going to be the focus of your offseason?

Each answer swirled a little bit of doubt about Lydon returning for a third season. Each answer offered a stark contrast to the immediate promise he made last year to stay. Each answer carefully tiptoed around three distinct letters that every recorder, notebook and camera was hoping to capture: NBA.

“I have no idea,” Lydon said about his plans. “It’s something I’ll sit down and talk about with my family. I’m not really thinking about that right now.”

For the Lydon family, what was a brief conversation last year about the NBA Draft will likely turn into a much lengthier one this time around. The discussions may have already begun for the projected first-round draft pick, as it appeared that way when head coach Jim Boeheim pulled aside his star sophomore to talk privately in the locker room. Lydon didn’t want to disclose what he and Boeheim talked over. If nothing else, there’s a very real chance that No. 1 seed Syracuse’s (19-15, 10-8 Atlantic Coast) Saturday afternoon game, an 85-80 loss to No. 5 seed Mississippi (22-13, 10-8 Southeastern) in the second round of the National Invitation Tournament, was Lydon’s last in an Orange uniform.


If it was the end of college basketball for the 6-foot-9 forward, Lydon rounds out his two-year SU career as a 47.6 percent shooter averaging 11.6 points per game. His final act in the Carrier Dome this season showcased his varied talents, chipping in 15 points and 14 rebounds for his ninth double-double of the year.

But ultimately the wide-ranging skill set that got Lydon to the Orange is also the skill set that will tug him away.

“He can do a little bit of everything,” freshman Taurean Thompson said, “and he’s still growing and maturing.

“… He can shoot it, rebound it, pass it, he has high IQ and has a lot of good moves around the basket. He can play the perimeter and the post.”

The resume rattled off by Thompson is equal parts attractive and unfortunate, given how difficult it is to fulfill all of those responsibilities each game. Lydon’s offense disappeared at times this year, drawing plenty of criticism as he played out long stretches with only a handful of shot attempts. Those critics often failed to notice his defense, where Lydon often was the savior of SU’s fallible zone.

Initially, this is the case that looked like it would rear on Saturday. The sophomore missed five of his first six shots while hauling in five rebounds, yet appeared more aggressive than in any of his other shooting slumps. He proceeded to reel off four consecutive field goals, punctuated by a two-hand slam that prompted Thompson to flex his muscles at Lydon from the bench.


Jacob Greenfeld | Asst. Photo Editor

Consistency has never gone hand-in-hand with Lydon, but his stat line often spells production.

“Tyler Lydon got really good on the boards,” Boeheim said. “When he struggled shooting a little bit, he got on the boards and played his tail off in there. He battled in there every game.”

In an interview before practice late last month, Lydon spoke about his decision-making process. Typically he’s pretty decisive, especially if it’s something he knows will benefit him. More complex decisions, he said, require more time. That’s when he turns into a more methodical thinker.

Declaring for the NBA Draft checks both of Lydon’s boxes. The monetary value provides immediate benefit, while characterizing his skills as NBA-ready is entirely more complicated.

Lydon’s decision will eventually surface, because no longer can he let this year consume him. This year is over.


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