BY: ED COLE
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Trey Lyles’ first stop on his NBA workout/audition tour was on Thursday in Phoenix, Ariz., with the Phoenix Suns.
“It was a lot of shooting, a lot of conditioning stuff,” Lyles said. “Just getting up and down the floor. (I) played a little bit. Overall a good workout.”
What made the workout with the Suns even better for Lyles was him seeing some familiar faces he played with during his AAU days.
“It was good, it was a cool experience just coming out here, being able to workout for an actual NBA team,” Lyles said.
Lyles is one of a record seven Kentucky players who declared for the 2015 NBA Draft. Lyles is also the third Wildcat to come to Arizona and test his skills with the Suns (Aaron Harrison and Devin Booker were the other two who came to town recently).
The Wildcats made it to the Final Four back in April, primarily because they played as a team. They lost to Wisconsin in the National Semifinal, but at least they got there as a team.
With all the talent that Kentucky head coach John Calipari put together last season, it would’ve been easy for players to think they were “all that,” and they were okay to do their own thing, but they didn’t. Lyles and his teammates stuck together, and had one of the most incredible seasons a college basketball team could ever have.
Suns’ head coach Jeff Hornacek likes that Lyles is a team first player, and not a “me” first guy. Hornacek feels he can work with someone like Lyles, who knows how to fall in line and follow the rules.
“He’s (Lyles) gonna accept whatever the coach asks him to do,” Hornacek said. “I think he was consistent with what he was asked to do. You probably get surprised about how well he can shoot the ball, and how easily he shoots it. He’s a big strong kid. He’ll step half a step beyond the three-point line, and he’s just flicking his wrist when he shoots it; so he does has some shooting ability.”
“His role, whatever it was at Kentucky, now he’s in the NBA, he gets a chance to show off some of that stuff,” Hornacek said.
As good as Lyles may be on the basketball court, you have to realize that he’s only 19-years-old. You see a lot of 19-year-olds struggle when they get to the professional level, simply because they’re not used to everything a professional athlete has to deal with during the regular season, the postseason (if you’re lucky enough to make it at that young an age) and in the offseason. It’s a lot for anyone that age to handle, but Hornacek sees this generation of young people – including Lyles – maturing faster than he and his generation of players did when they were just short of that magical age of 21.
“Most of these guys, the way they’re brought up, they’re star players in college. You still see they’re gonna learn a lot, and they’re gonna mature even more,” Hornacek said. “They got a pretty good grasp of, ‘hey, you’re a big boy now, you’re gonna be playing in the NBA.’ The goofiness that a normal 19-year-old has, these guys don’t have much of that.”
Lyles feels he has a very high intelligence level when he’s on the court, which he hopes will guide him to even more success at the NBA level.
“Just doing the simple stuff, doing what needs to get done, doing the least possible to be most effective,” Lyles said. “Just taking my time and not forcing the issue I’d say.”