One day after its top assistant coach left for Washington, the Syracuse men’s basketball team could be losing a star player as well.
Orange sophomore forward Tyler Lydon declared for the NBA Draft on Monday afternoon. Lydon started all 34 games for the Orange this season.
Initial reports indicated that Lydon had signed with an agent, making him ineligible to return to the Orange next season. But, SU head coach Jim Boeheim said at a press conference Monday that this was not the case.
“He specifically told me that he did not sign with an agent as of 1 p.m. [Monday],” Boeheim said.
Lydon will now go through the evaluation process and has until June 12 to withdraw his name from the draft. If Lydon does not sign with an agent and pulls out before that date, he will be eligible to play for SU in 2017-18.
As a freshman, Lydon was the sixth man on a Syracuse team that advanced to the Final Four. He followed that up by averaging 13.2 points and a team-high 8.6 rebounds this season. He also averaged 36.1 minutes per game and played all three frontcourt positions.
Boeheim said that he’s grateful for Lydon’s play at Syracuse over the last two seasons.
“He’s been a huge part of our team, getting to the Final Four and to having a pretty good year this year,” Boeheim said. “Not what we would have liked, but better than what could have been, too.”
Draft experts expect Lydon to be a late first round pick. Draft Express projects that Lydon will be selected 23rd overall by the Orlando Magic, while CBS Sports ranks him as the 26th best player in this year’s draft.
Boeheim said he believes Lydon could improve his draft stock if he returns to Syracuse for another season.
“He didn’t demonstrate this year that he can be a lottery pick,” Boeheim said. “But, I know he can be. That’s what I told him. I think that he could come back and be a lottery pick.”
Boeheim, Wildhack address the media
Syracuse Director of Athletics John Wildhack was with the SU women’s basketball team in Connecticut when he was told that Mike Hopkins had accepted the position of head men’s basketball coach at Washington.
After returning to Syracuse yesterday, Wildhack offered and agreed to a contract extension with Boeheim. Boeheim had originally been expected to retire following the 2017-18 season.
Wildhack said that Boeheim’s extension will maintain the Syracuse program’s continuity.
“The success of Syracuse basketball is truly unique,” Wildhack said at a press conference Monday. “I’m very confident that the success that we’ve all enjoyed, and that our fans have enjoyed, for four plus decades will continue.”
Boeheim said on Monday that he had intended on retiring following next season.
“I was 100 percent content for this coming year to be my last year,” Boeheim said. “I wanted to get through everything that we had to get through, get established, get some players here and leave this program in a good position…That’s what my only goal and motivation was.”
But, once Hopkins accepted the job at Washington, that plan changed and Boeheim decided to continue his coaching career once Wildhack offered him an extension.
“I’ve always been grateful that they’ve thought I was the right coach here,” Boeheim said. “I’m very proud and grateful that John [Wildhack] came to me with that decision, because he didn’t have to. I hope that I can live up to his expectations and make it a good decision."
Boeheim said he was thrilled for Hopkins and the opportunity he will have at Washington.
“Mike Hopkins is like a son to me,” Boeheim said. “I couldn’t be happier for him. He’s meant a huge amount to the Syracuse basketball program.”
Boeheim’s contract extension was for an undisclosed number of years. Following Hopkins departure, Adrian Autry was promoted to the position of associate head coach. Boeheim said that Syracuse will continue recruiting for this year’s class and begin the search for an assistant coach to round out his staff.