Our own Gary Bedore reported Wednesday that Xavier point guard Mark Lyons will be transferring to either Kansas, Kentucky or Arizona, and because of the new NCAA rules, he will be eligible to play next season as a senior.
Because the 6-foot-1, 190-pound guard has already played three years at Xavier, this gives us a chance to break down his numbers to see what kind of impact he might have for KU if he picks the Jayhawks.
Before we get started, I think it's important to note that I'm only going to be looking at Lyons' stats in this blog. Obviously, the guard — who played prep school at Brewster Academy, the alma mater of both Thomas Robinson and Naadir Tharpe — will join a new school with some baggage.
The reason Lyons is leaving Xavier is because of a falling out with XU coach Chris Mack, as the story linked says "the guard repeatedly tried to take over games by driving into crowds of defenders or taking long shots."
Lyons also was suspended two games following the ugly Cincinnati-Xavier brawl on Dec. 10, 2011, and didn't help his cause with his postgame comments (He's No. 10 in the video and the second one to talk at the postgame press conference).
Obviously, KU coach Bill Self is aware of what's above and is willing to accept it if Lyons is planning on visiting campus, so let's look at some of the numbers.
Mark Lyons vs. Tyshawn Taylor
After looking at his profile, I couldn't help but notice how similar some of Lyons' numbers were to that of Tyshawn Taylor.
So instead of trying to conceptualize the type of player that Lyons is, I figured we'd compare his numbers last year to that of a player that KU fans know well*.
* — One thing to keep in mind with this exercise: These numbers don't take into account both teams' strength of schedule. According to KenPom.com, KU played the nation's No. 1 schedule last season. Xavier still faced a good slate on its own, finishing with the 30th-best schedule, according to KenPom. It's just something to be aware of when we compare the two players. All stats from KenPom.com.
OK, let's explain the statistics above. Offensive rating is simply a measure of a player's individual efficiency, or the points per possession he creates himself. One point per possession is considered average.
Offensive rating is used hand in hand with possession percentage, which is a measure of what percentage of a team's possessions a player ends while he's on the floor. Basically, this measures how involved in the offense a player is. Average possession percentage is 20 percent.
Shot percentage is the percentage of shots taken when a player is on the floor. Again, average is 20 percent.
From the numbers, we can see Taylor and Lyons played similar roles for their respective teams last year. Both were well-above-average offensive players that took on a huge offensive role for their teams.
The two players did this in different ways. Lyons shot more often than Taylor, but despite his reputation in the article above, this didn't stop him from being an efficient player while he was in.
Taylor, though he shot less, burned a higher number of possessions on turnovers.
Turnover rate (which shows what percentage of a players' possessions were used on turnovers) shows Lyons to be a much more secure ball-handler than Taylor.
So how did both players obtain their efficiency offensively? Let's take a look.
First off, the two players had nearly identical three-point numbers:
Both players helped their teams when shooting three-pointers, making them at a high percentage without taking too many (and yes, we're looking at the whole season and not just Taylor's NCAA Tournament shooting).
Let's look at a few more stats.
This is where Lyons lags behind Taylor just a bit.
Though Lyons took 56 fewer twos than Taylor last year, he was only a 44.4 percent shooter from two-point range (NCAA average last season was 47.8 percent).
Lyons also wasn't as good at getting to the free-throw line, though he was a significantly better shooter than Taylor when he got there.
Taylor also was easily the better passer last year, handing out assists on 29.7 percent of KU's field goals, while Lyons dished out less than a-fifth of his team's assists while he was on the floor.
Lyons' effective field-goal percentage (a number that gives 1 1/2 credit for three-pointers because they're worth 1 1/2 times the points) also is lower than Taylor's, though as we mentioned earlier, his efficiency is still about the same because of his much lower turnover number.
Defensively, with the statistics we have, the two appear to have about the same net impact, though they contribute in different ways.
Lyons helped his team much more on the glass, especially on the defensive end (a 10.3 percent defensive rebound percentage would have ranked fourth on KU last year, behind only Robinson, Jeff Withey and Kevin Young).
The two players' steal numbers are almost exactly the same, while Lyons also blocked one percent of the two-pointers taken against his team.
The one big advantage Taylor had over Lyons was his ability to avoid fouls. Though Lyons fouled out of just two games last season, he had four fouls in eight other contests.
Though Taylor had the better year last year against tougher competition, Lyons' production wasn't far off from KU's senior point guard.
In 2011-12, Lyons was a gifted three-point shooter who was able to play at a high level without turning it over often, though he shot far too many two-pointers considering his poor percentage from inside the arc.
Defensively, Lyons gave Xavier a boost on the boards but oftentimes found himself over-aggressive and in foul trouble.
If he came to KU, the senior would immediately provide experience and scoring on a team that could need it with the departures of Taylor and Robinson.
Though Lyons' high shot percentage will need to be toned down a bit, he could be a nice one-year stopgap for the Jayhawks if Self doesn't believe that Tharpe is ready for a starting role.
Lyons would come with some off-the-court questions discussed earlier, but as far as immediate help goes, Self will have a hard time finding a bigger impact player at this stage in the basketball calendar.