As is the case with most top-10 high school players, if you type “Trey Lyles” into a search engine, a USA Basketball bio is one of the first things that come up. What sets Lyles apart—among other things—is that a Canada Basketball bio comes up, as well.
That both countries would like to claim him is a testament to how good Lyles is. Born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, he moved to the States when he was 7, settling in Indiana, where he developed into one of the best players in the Class of ’14. He was already in the USA Basketball pipeline as a soph when Canadian hoops authorities recruited him back to the land of his birth. It worked. Lyles suited up almost immediately and averaged 14 and 14 per at the 2012 FIBA Americas U18 Championship.
“It was a big adjustment, but I felt like I’d be able to showcase myself better in the Canadian system,” says Lyles, a 6-10, 255-pound forward who went on to lead the U19 team to a best-ever sixth-place finish at the 2013 World Championships. “I want to bring us into contention, show that we have players who can really play.”
There’s already plenty of evidence for that—both the No. 1 pick in the 2013 Draft and the most-hyped player in the 2013 prep class are T-Dot natives—and despite developing his game almost exclusively on US soil, Lyles is happy to be part of the northern influx. For now, he’s got one more season to put in work for Indianapolis (IN) Arsenal Tech, where he’s won back-to-back city POY awards. He’s collected that hardware (and earned a spot as a consensus top-five player nationally) with a fundamentally stellar all-around game. “I try to play unselfish, run the floor hard, do whatever the team needs me to do,” he says. Most nights, “post a double-double” is part of that equation, as well.
Unsurprisingly for a dude with that size and a game that earns Tim Duncan comparisons, Lyles is coveted by virtually every college program in the nation.
He originally committed to the in-state Hoosiers before reopening his recruiting last summer, and recently narrowed his list to four schools: Butler, Florida, Kentucky and Louisville. The power trio that combined for four of the last eight National Titles would seem to have an edge over the mid-major that recently lost its coach, but Lyles says the in-state Bulldogs appeal to him on another level—something similar to the impact he had on his high school squad, and which echoes the reason he decided to suit up for Canada: “I’m big on the idea of trying to bring teams up into contention.”
Whether he becomes the Bulldogs’ highest-rated recruit or simply the latest Gator, Wildcat or Cardinal with NCAA Title dreams and NBA aspirations, Lyles figures to have a substantial impact. He’ll likely have that decision out of the way this fall—the better to focus on his senior season. His junior year ended prematurely when a knee injury forced him to miss the state sectional title game last spring. His goals for ’13-14? “Hopefully we win states. Hopefully we go undefeated. Hopefully we have a chance at a National Championship.”
Achieving similar success in college, reaching the NBA, helping transform Canada into an international power—Lyles has a lot of plans. Consider it more fodder for the next Google search.