Before this season even began, NBA teams began looking at Syracuse freshman Tyler Lydon.
The Detroit Pistons and the Philadelphia 76ers reached out to New Hampton School coach Pete Hutchins at the "beginning of the season," Hutchins told SNY.tv.
If Lydon keeps playing the way he did this week at the Battle 4 Atlantis in the Bahamas, you can bet more NBA teams will be on his trail.
The 6-foot-8 freshman forward from Elizaville, New York, went 7-for-10 shooting from 3-point range as Syracuse won the tournament, breaking the event's individual record for 3-point shooting percentage.
In Syracuse's 74-67 win over Texas A&M in Friday's championship game, Lydon shot 4 for 5 overall and 3 for 3 from beyond the arc en route to 13 points and eight rebounds.
"That takes us to Golden State Warriors level,'' freshman guard Malachi Richardson told the Syracuse Post-Standard. "He's almost like a Draymond Green with the way he can step out, bring the ball up the floor, play center, defend anyone, shoot the three, rebound. He can do anything. It helps us out a whole lot. Teams can just key on Mike [Gbinije], Trev [Cooney] and me and they can't just sit in the paint on him.''
"I think it just spaces everything out,'' Lydon told the Post-Standard. "First of all, I'm bringing the five man, if I'm playing that position at the time. So I'm bringing a big man out of the lane, which opens up opportunities for these guys to drive and get in there and get fouled. Malachi, Mike and Trevor were being real aggressive today, and that was because the big guy had to come out on me and respect me as a shooter. It provides different spacing.''
Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim would no doubt laugh if you mentioned "NBA" and "Tyler Lydon" in the same sentence, but DraftExpress.com already has him as the No. 21 freshman in the nation, ahead of LSU shooting guard Antonio Blakeney and UConn combo guard Jalen Adams.
Lydon figures to be at Syracuse for several years going forward, but Hutchins and Lydon's AAU coach, Jim Hart of the Albany City Rocks, aren't at all surprised at what the stretch four showed in the Bahamas this week. And they say his work ethic is unparalleled.
"Tyler has everything working in his favor," Hutchins said. "Everyone can see his talent and how hard he plays; it is obvious. What you can't see is how motivated he is. Those who know him well will tell you that he not only wakes up every day thinking about being the best basketball player he can be, but he also puts in the work. He is always in the gym. Tyler also wants to be coached. He's is constantly seeking feedback about what he can do to improve. Lastly, he's a great teammate. His effort, energy, and attitude are infectious."
Said Hart: "Tyler has a very high ceiling not only because of his natural ability and athleticism but more important because he will not be out-worked. He's his own toughest critic and is never satisfied with individual accolades. He's determined to get the most of his abilities and loves to be coached. Whenever you combine 6-9 with elite athleticism, high IQ, great shooting stroke and a tireless work ethic, the result is usually pretty damn good."
As for his pro prospects, Hutchins said Lydon is the type of kid who's likely to stick around Syracuse for a while, which should make Orange fans feel good.
"It's not my place to say and it's early to speculate but he's the type of person who if he is enjoying the experience [of college]," he said, "he'll stick around longer than he needs to."