After an absolute roller coaster of a season, nobody expected any of the three SU freshman to depart for the NBA Draft before the NCAA Tournament began. After a shocking run to the Final Four, however, all eyes are on Malachi Richardson and Tyler Lydon, two freshmen that received a ton of playing time in their first years in Orange.
While Richardson hasn’t given any indication on whether or not he will be returning to Syracuse for his sophomore year, Lydon shined some light on the biggest question facing the young forward this spring. “I plan on staying here. I haven’t really thought too much about it, but I definitely plan on staying,” he told reporters following SU’s loss to the Tar Heels.
That quote is anything but definite, but it shows that Lydon is certainly leaning towards returning to school. That could theoretically change at any moment, especially with the NBA’s new policy on declaring for the draft. If a player decides to test NBA waters, he will now be allowed to enter the draft process with an option to return to school if he doesn’t think his stock is high enough following the combine. Under this new policy, it makes sense for any player to declare, knowing that the decision isn’t permanent.
In his freshman year, Lydon was arguably the Orange’s most versatile player not named Michael Gbinije. Originally pegged as a wing player, Lydon was forced to fill the backup center role when recruit Moustapha Diagne was ruled ineligible by the NCAA. Despite being undersized and lacking some serious muscle, the freshman held his own and was, at times, the Orange’s best option in the center of the zone. Through SU’s five tournament games he totaled 20 blocks, a Syracuse record. Factor in his ability to shoot the three ball and Lydon is truly an NBA stretch four.
He only scored eight points last night on 3-of-9 shooting, but his freshman numbers were highly impressive. Averaging over 30 minutes per game off of the bench, Lydon totaled 10.1 points per game and 6.3 rebounds per game on 48 percent shooting. He tallied four double-doubles on the year, the most impressive coming against UConn in the Battle for Atlantis tournament.
Lydon’s most productive set of games came in the Bahamas, as he was a huge reason why SU was able to take home the title. He shot a collective 15-for-20 over a three game span, including 7-of-10 from behind the arc. He scored a career-high 21 points in the Orange’s second loss to Pitt this season.
If he returns, the Orange will have a very bright outlook for next season, with a top recruiting class in the works and Paschal Chukwu ready to dominate the interior of the zone. Having depth in the middle will give Lydon a chance to play his natural position and showcase his talents as a scorer and wing defender.
Be sure to follow The Fizz on Twitter @OrangeFizz for Syracuse recruiting and NBA news. Follow along with Lydon and Richardson’s journey in the coming weeks to see if either player plans to test out NBA waters.