As John Calipari travels the country this week, one of his expected destinations is Evansville’s Bosse High School.
The reason: Class of 2014 point guard JaQuan Lyle.
Bosse coach Shane Burkhart told the Herald-Leader on Monday that he is expecting Calipari to visit sometime during the contact period, which started Sunday.
“He’s coming in, we just don’t know when,” Burkhart said. “I know one of the things that Coach has expressed to JaQuan is that, right now, he’s really concentrating on 2013. He has to, and we completely understand that. We’re extremely excited about him coming in.
“He’s going to call and tell us he’s coming in, and we’re going to say, ‘Great, thank you, come on in, and we’re excited to see you.’”
Burkhart will host open gyms at Bosse on Monday, Wednesday night, Thursday morning and Saturday morning. The coach said he has three other Division-I caliber players on his roster, and “maybe 40″ schools have already called ahead to say they’ll be in Evansville this week.
He specifically mentioned Louisville, Michigan State, Purdue and Georgetown as expected visitors.
But Burkhart said Lyle and his teammates are especially excited for Calipari’s visit.
“With Coach Cal, not only is JaQuan excited about the possibility of him coming, but I think all of our kids are excited about having the opportunity to see him up close and personal,” he said. “It’s a neat thing.”
While Burkhart said he has yet to speak to Calipari, he has had a few conversations with UK assistant Orlando Antigua. But most of his information actually comes from Julius Mays, who recently transferred to Kentucky. Burkhart was an assistant coach on Mays’ high school team and the two stay in regular contact. He described the new Wildcat as “like a member of our family.”
Burkhart also said he’s heard good things from Mays, both about his recent time UK and the program’s interest in Lyle.
“Julius has given us a lot of insight, and it’s been all positive,” he said.
Lyle had planned to attend this weekend’s Alumni Game, but the junior guard will instead visit Lexington next month for Big Blue Madness. Burkhart was already planning to go so he could see Mays in a Wildcat uniform for the first time, so the player and coach will make the trip together.
“We just look forward to getting down there and learning about what everything’s all about,” he said. “And we’ll see where it goes from there.”
Burkhart doesn’t expect any quick-trigger commitments from Lyle, who had four scholarship offers before he ever played a high school game and is no stranger to the recruiting process. The Bosse coach said he would be “very shocked” if his player commits to any school before the start of his senior season.
Burkhart said Lyle’s grandmother would play a big part in helping the point guard make his decision.
“His grandmother is going to make sure that she and JaQuan have the right fit for JaQuan to continue to grow as a man,” he said. “She’s a lot about character. She knows JaQuan is a good basketball player. But she wants to know what kind of education he’s going to get and what kind of man he’s going to be when he gets done with the school he chooses.”
Lyle will have plenty of choices when that time comes. Burkhart said he’s currently measuring at 6-foot-4 and a half, and “he’s still growing.” He raved about Lyle’s basketball IQ and court vision on offense, and said he’s starting to become a much better defender.
Of course, he’s not the only elite point guard in the class. UK has already offered Tyus Jones of Minnesota and Emmanuel Mudiay of Texas. In fact, Calipari was at Apple Valley High School on Monday for a visit with Jones, who is rated the No. 2 player in 2014 by Scout.com and ESPN.
Burkhart said he would put Lyle up against any other point guard in the country.
“I’ve never seen Tyus Jones play, and I’m sure he’s really good. But if there’s another kid in the class of 2014 that can see the floor like JaQuan Lyle, I’d like to see it,” he said.
“(Lyle’s) basketball IQ is just off the charts, and his court vision is second to none. He sees stuff before it happens.”
For now, Lyle will work on honing those skills as he sifts through the recruiting process. And Burkhart will be among those to help him find his way.
“His basketball talent is amazing and, as long as he continues to mature, he’s going to be able to decide where he wants to go. And that’s a neat thing. A lot of kids out there wish they could go to Kentucky and Louisville and Michigan State and places like that. And JaQuan’s going to be able to decide if he wants to. That’s quite an honor.”