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Trey Lyles to Kentucky: What 5-Star Forward's Decision Means for Wildcats

Photo credit: 247Sports
Photo credit: 247Sports
Tim KeeneyContributor INovember 5, 2013

Another 5-star recruit for John Calipari and the Kentucky Wildcats—wake me up when something surprising happens. 

On Tuesday afternoon, Trey Lyles, one of the most coveted high school basketball players on the planet, elected to play for Calipari instead of Rick Pitino and the Louisville Cardinals. Lyles' decision should only further intensify the already-heated Bluegrass State rivalry.

Thomas Beisner of KSTV provided a picture of the talented power forward's announcement, which was televised on ESPNU:

The elite prospect from Indianapolis, who decommitted from Indiana in the summer of 2012, is ranked as the 10th-best player, second-best power forward and top player out of Indiana in the class of 2014, per 247Sports' composite rankings

What he lacks in athleticism Lyles makes up for in size and offensive polish around the basket. 

Standing at 6'9" and 245 pounds (per 247Sports), he is perhaps the most skilled 2014 recruit in the post. With good footwork and an array of moves, he can score with his back to the basket or step outside and knock down the jumper from the free-throw line or further. 

ESPN's scouting report (subscription needed) even went so far as to say he is reminiscent of a "young Tim Duncan."

While that may be jumping the gun a little bit, it's apparent that Lyles' smooth offensive game and rebounding ability means he will be called on to contribute right away in Lexington. 

Calipari brought in one of the most highly touted recruiting classes of all time in 2013, but if things go as expected, he'll have to rebuild—or perhaps "reload" is the more appropriate word—once again in '14. 

As many as seven current Wildcats—Julius Randle, Andrew Harrison, Aaron Harrison, Willie Cauley-Stein, James Young, Alex Poythress and Dakari Johnson—could be selected in the first round of the upcoming NBA draft. Heck, Marcus Lee could even make it eight in the draft if he finds a way to have an impact on this season. 

Even if none of them return, which—even in Calipari's notorious "Minor League NBA" system—is slightly unlikely, the Wildcats are set up nicely for 2014 with the addition of Lyles. 

He will join fellow 5-star prospect Karl Towns Jr., who played for Calipari with the Dominican Republic, and create one of the more-compelling frontcourts we've seen in Lexington. 

Like Lyles, Towns isn't overly athletic but is skilled and can score in a variety of ways. The increasingly slower and more physical collegiate game lends well to that kind of skill set, as the duo's ability to create mismatches and pass out of the post will make things easier for their teammates. 

That's good news for 4-star point guard Tyler Ulis and 4-star shooting guard Devin Booker. All that's left in the No. 1 recruiting class in America is a small forward—something Lyles believes he can assist in, per Beisner:

That would be 5-star Stanley Johnson, who is ranked as the sixth-best recruit in the class and is currently deciding between Kentucky, Arizona and USC. 

Of course, whether Johnson follows the footsteps of so many other 5-stars to Lexington or not doesn't really matter. Either way, Calipari and Kentucky will remain at the top of the recruiting world for the foreseeable future. 



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