Xavier guard Lyons wold be home run for Miller, Arizona Basketball

Arizona is in dire need of an experienced point guard for next season before Duquesne transfer T.J. McConnell becomes eligible in 2013-14.

Combo guard Mark Lyons, who UA head coach Sean Miller recruited to Xavier before joining the Wildcats, needs to prove he can play point guard in his final season to improve his NBA draft stock.
You do the math.

After Lyons announced on Monday he would transfer from Xavier for his final year of eligibility, everyone and their mother could put the pieces together.

Arizona needs Lyons and Lyons needs Arizona. The marriage makes complete sense for both parties. Despite his off-the-court troubles, the loss of Josiah Turner left the Wildcats point guard-less. They’ll be without a true floor general for an entire season until McConnell becomes eligible.

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But with Turner transferring and Kyryl Natyazhko leaving for Europe, the Wildcats still have an extra scholarship to hand out.

There’s no question that scholarship is Lyons’ for the taking.

Miller is clearly a Lyons advocate. He lured the three-star recruit to Xavier in 2008 and coached him during the guard’s redshirt season.

While Xavier shone under head coach Chris Mack early in the season last year, Miller often applauded the toughness and leadership of Lyons and Tu Holloway.

Miller even went as far as to back up his former players after their brawl with Yancy Gates and the Cincinnati Bearcats.

It’s no secret Miller is a Mark Lyons guy, so to speak, and the feeling is mutual.

Lyons is familiar with Miller, and he’d have an immediate chance to lead a talented group of underclassmen and returners.

Lyons needs to show he can play point guard to make it to the next level. He played off-guard next to Holloway last season, and because of that, the 6-foot-1, 188-pound guard won’t be found in 2013 mock drafts.

Despite joining Xavier’s 1,000-point club last season and averaging 15.1 points per game a season ago, 6-foot-1 shooting guards simply don’t make it in the NBA.

Next season at Arizona, however, he’d have the chance to silence the doubters that don’t think he can play the point. The Wildcats need Lyons in the worst way.

He’s tough as nails, a natural leader and a veteran presence that would help keep four highly-touted incoming freshman in line off the court, and in the right spots on it.

Without Lyons, Arizona will play second fiddle to UCLA in the Pac-12 and most likely have a mediocre showing in the NCAA Tournament.

With Lyons, they’re scary. They would have all the pieces to make a deep NCAA Tournament run and possibly a push at the Final Four.

Lyons knows Miller’s sets. He knows what he wants done and how he wants it done. There wouldn’t be much of a transition period.

With Lyons, Arizona’s depth would be scary. Miller would have Lyons, Nick Johnson, Gabe York, Jordin Mayes and even Kevin Parrom at his disposal in the backcourt, and Solomon Hill, Angelo Chol, Grant Jerrett, Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski manning the post.

That’s a legitimate 10-man rotation, with most of those players being able to play multiple positions as well.

Lyons would take this team to the next level. He’s been a starter in big-time tournament games and he has the heart of a, well, lion. He plays defense — averaging 1.3 steals per game last season — and is close with Miller and his system.

While Kentucky and Kansas are also in pursuit of the New York point guard, according to Yahoo! Sports, don’t be surprised if Lyons chooses Miller and the opportunity at Arizona.

It’s the right fit at the right time and if Lyons does opt for Miller and the Wildcats, UA fans across the country should rejoice.

—Mike Schmitz is a marketing senior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @WildcatHoops .


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