Pras Murthy & Ace Thakore
As PGU hinted weeks ago, Mark Lyons has decided to transfer to Arizona for his senior season. Lyons, a 6’1 point guard from Xavier, decided to leave the Musketeers after a turbulent season, which included a two game suspension for his role in the Xavier-Cincinnati brawl. Lyons will be eligible to play immediately as a graduate transfer, giving Arizona some much needed depth in the backcourt.
“I’ve decided to attend Arizona for my senior year,” said Lyons. “It was a perfect fit and I feel really good about the decision. My man Kevin Parrom showed me all around, I can’t wait.”
Lyons was on campus Friday and Saturday to get a closer look at the program and facilities, and of course speak with the coaches.
“The campus is great,” Lyons said. “And the facilities are amazing. I think Arizona can really prepare me for the next level.”
Lyons visited Kentucky last week, and was considering visiting Kansas next week. But once he got to Tucson, he knew it was the place for him.
“It was an honor to have so many schools interested in me,” Lyons said. “I was pretty sure Arizona was where I wanted to go, and after my visit, I know for sure.”
The 6’1 point guard was second on Xavier in scoring last year, averaging 15.1 points. Lyons also averaged 2.7 assists and 3.4 rebounds. Lyons, whose nickname is “Cheeks,” had seven games where he scored 20+ points, and nine games with 5+ assists. Lyons shot 39% from beyond the arc and had a 1.2 assist-turnover. Tu Holloway was the primary ball handler, but both guards distributed the ball.
Lyons’ decision to attend Arizona was based on familiarity and opportunity. Lyons was originally recruited to Xavier by Sean Miller and his staff before the coaches left for Arizona. Lyons is also familiar with Miller’s system, as many of his principles are still in place at Xavier. With only one season at a new school to further his career, that familiarity was an important factor in choosing a school.
“The coaching staff is the reason I’m coming to Arizona,” Lyons said. “I’ve known the coaches since high school and I have a great relationship with Coach Miller and Coach Book. Also, Kevin (Parrom) is a good friend of mine and I’m excited to be his teammate.”
The opportunity to be a major contributor also attracted Lyons. With Josiah Turner leaving Arizona and TJ McConnell not being eligible until the 2013-14 season, there were major questions at the point guard position. Both Nick Johnson and Jordin Mayes struggled when asked to be a pure point guard, as they are more comfortable in a combo guard role. With the talented incoming big men, Arizona is in need of a player to distribute the ball and control the game. Filling that need with an experienced veteran who can also score in bunches seems like a great fit for both sides.
The value of Lyons’ addition won’t be known until the season starts, but for now it appears both sides made the best of a tough situation. The potential of having a veteran point guard running the offense gives Arizona’s season a much brighter outlook.
“I feel like this is karma. You do good things and good things come to you. I feel like I’ve come full circle,” Lyons said. “Now we just need to win games.”