Lyle knocks down game-winner in national HS tourney

Thursday afternoon, former Bosse High School boys’ basketball standout JaQuan Lyle drained a game-winning 3-pointer on national television, giving his fifth-ranked Huntington Prep (W.Va.) squad a 65-63 victory over No. 6 La Lumiere (Ind.) in the quarterfinals of the Dick’s Sporting Good High School National Tournament.

Huntington advanced to the semifinal round, where it will play on ESPN2 Friday at 3:30 p.m. Central Time.

The senior also provided a go-ahead assist for a dunk to Thomas Bryant with 29 seconds remaining before La Lumiere went back ahead with a 3-pointer, setting the stage for his final shot. Lyle finished with 11 points, four rebounds and six assists — the type of balanced stat line that is typical for the 6-foot-5 combo guard.

Before Lyle’s brilliant final stretch, the Oregon commit didn’t look much different from anyone else on the court, which is precisely why Lyle’s decision to play his final high school season at a prep school shouldn’t be frowned upon locally.

I’ve seen some comments on our website and heard grumblings that Lyle should’ve never left Bosse, where he was a star who led the Bulldogs to the regional tournament each year. While the high school basketball in the area is solid, one can’t blame a kid for choosing to play with and against other Division I recruits in an environment more structured than the AAU circuit.

Huntington Prep plays a competitive, national schedule and Lyle also told me being away from home for a season has helped prepare him for his journey to the West Coast next this fall.

As for Lyle’s game, all the tools are there for success at the Division I level. He has great size and strength for a guard, and possesses natural play-making skills.

Paul Biancardi, ESPN.com’s director of basketball recruiting who was calling Thursday’s game on ESPNU, weighed in on Lyle’s skill set:

“He’s inconsistent right now, he’s out of shape, but he has great instincts for the game. He sees the floor well but at times he can get sloppy. When he can get in shape, he can be a really good player in the Pac-12.”

Of course, another reason top prospects go to prep school is to get their academics in order. Lumecha Garrett, Lyle’s mother, told the Courier & Press on March 19 that he plans to take the SAT in April in order to earn a qualifying score.

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