Lyles paid his third unofficial visit to Lexington on Saturday and was in attendance for Kentucky’s 72-62 win over Auburn. He had previously taken trips to Louisville and Butler.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, are also in good stead with the unsigned recruit. Lyles made a surprise visit to Louisville last weekend, where he witnessed a 19-point rout of Marquette. A person with direct knowledge of the visit said Lyles “loved” his time on campus and is eager to return — likely on an official visit — down the line.
With a pair of talented point guards — Hargrave standout Terry Rozier and top junior college floor general Chris Jones — already in his 2013 recruiting basket plus a third point guard — hometown product Quentin Snider — pinned down in the class of 2014, Rick Pitino has shifted his long-term recruiting focus towards forwards. Louisville graduates its starting backcourt at the end of this season, but should be set with its frontcourt through the 2013-14 campaign.
Kentucky has secured one junior pledge itself. The Wildcats landed a commitment from St. Joseph’s (NJ) star big man Karl Towns in December. While loosely listed as a center, Towns is a hybrid frontcourt player with a handle and evolving perimeter game. He figures to transition to the 4 in college, especially if Marcus Lee, a 2013 center pledge, sticks around for his sophomore season. Whether Towns and Lyles could coexist remains to be seen, and Lyles is not opposed to finding out for himself.
“Trey doesn’t get too caught up in who’s signed where and whether they could work together,” my source indicated. “He’s not a selfish kid. He can play with anyone and is willing to also.”
Lyles has not set a timetable for an official decision and his recruitment figures to carry into his senior year. He plans to sketch out future trips — including his five allotted official visits — at the conclusion of his high school basketball season.
Thanks to a spate of highly prized prospects moving up from the 2014 class, Lyles is now considered the top power forward prospect in the junior class. The 6-foot-8 forward has diversified his scoring arsenal since his sophomore year and added a strong mid-range game on top of his low-block expertise.