BASKETBALL

Arizona basketball: Lyons gets right to point, picks Wildcats

Ex-Xavier G commits during 'great' visit, fills UA's playmaking hole
2012-05-07T00:00:00Z 2012-08-14T06:48:34Z Arizona basketball: Lyons gets right to point, picks WildcatsBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
May 07, 2012 12:00 am  • 

Guard Mark Lyons decided to reunite with coach Sean Miller, and the timing couldn't have been better for the Arizona Wildcats.

Lyons, a third-team all-Atlantic 10 selection at Xavier last season, committed to spending his final year of eligibility with the Wildcats during an official recruiting visit to Tucson over the weekend.

The Wildcats can use Lyons to help fill the one-year hole they have at point guard, with Josiah Turner transferring to SMU and incoming point guard T.J. McConnell sitting out next season under NCAA transfer rules.

And Lyons - who won't have to sit out if he finishes his Xavier degree as expected in two weeks and enrolls at the UA as a graduate student - says he wants to play point guard in order to improve his professional prospects.

During an interview with the Star on Sunday, Lyons also said he wanted to play wherever the Wildcats needed him and was excited about continuing a "great connection" with the core of the UA staff who recruited him to play at Xavier.

A native of Schenectady, N.Y., Lyons committed to the Musketeers out of Brewster (N.H.) Academy in 2008 and spent the 2008-09 season redshirting before Miller took over Arizona in April 2009.

As a result, Lyons said he got to know Miller and UA assistants James Whitford and Book Richardson well, but his visit to Tucson sealed his decision.

Lyons had also visited Kentucky last week and was considering a trip to Kansas.

"I knew I wanted to be at Arizona, but I had to make sure I gave it a fair shot," Lyons said. "That was the great thing about me coming out here. … It was a great, great place. They showed me everything and I know what I'm getting in the coaches and the program. I'm going to come there and just try to win."

Lyons also will be around some familiar faces on the court. He'll be joined in practice by McConnell, who played against Xavier in the Atlantic-10, and in games by forward Kevin Parrom, whom Lyons ironically hosted for Parrom's 2008 recruiting visit to Xavier.

Over the weekend, Lyons also came to know personable UA sophomore guard Nick Johnson, spending the most time with Johnson and Parrom.

"Those are some good guys. They are all about winning," Lyons said. "They welcomed me with open arms."

In addition, Lyons said he made a phone call to McConnell, who is finishing up the spring semester at Duquesne. After facing McConnell in the A-10, Lyons now is likely to face McConnell in practice every day - with McConnell likely as the scout team point guard and Lyons as the possible starter at the point.

"I let him know what was going on and he said it would be a great spot for me," Lyons said of McConnell. "It's a great thing for both of us. We know each other's game a little bit, and I get a year to benefit off him."

Lyons started 66 of 98 games over his three-year Xavier career, but he played primarily off the ball while the Musketeers went with standout Tu Holloway at point guard. Xavier also had two other options at the point next season.

But while Lyons is a logical choice to play point guard at the UA, considering the Wildcats' need and his expressed desire to gain experience at the position, Lyons said Sunday he's open to anything.

Primarily, he said, the goal is to win.

"Whatever they want me to do, I'm going to do it. I've been to the Sweet 16 three times, and (UA coaches) want to go to the Final Four. That's what I'm going to try to get myself ready for."

Lyons says he expects to enroll at the UA in June as a graduate student after completing one online course at Xavier this month.

Arizona now has a seven-man recruiting class for 2012, including Lyons, McConnell, Cochise College forward Matt Korcheck and four highly regarded high school players: Kaleb Tarczewski, Grant Jerrett, Brandon Ashley and Gabe York.

Barring further roster movement, Lyons' commitment puts the Wildcats again exactly at their limit of 12 scholarships for next season. The NCAA normally allows 13 for men's basketball, but the Wildcats were limited to 12 for the 2011-12 and 2012-13 seasons because of NCAA sanctions.

Mark Lyons

• Position: Guard

• Height, weight: 6-3, 188

• Hometown: Schenectady, N.Y.

• High School: Brewster Academy, N.H.

• Xavier career averages: 12.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.6 assists.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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