Update, 4:25 p.m. ET: Xavier has made it official, announcing via a release that Lyons will not be returning to the program for his senior season.
“After our end of the season meeting with Mark it became apparent that a change for both parties was the right thing moving forward,” Mack said in the release. “During our meeting expectations were outlined for his fifth and final season, areas in which I believe needed improvement. Mark did not recognize these expectations as being important and ultimately it was decided that a change of scenery would be in his best interest. I wish Mark well.”
Original post is below.
Where will Mark Lyons play the final year of his collegiate basketball career? According to Lyons, at least, the answer appears to be fluid.
On Sunday, CBS Sports reported that Lyons wasn't returning to Xavier for his senior season, a decision reportedly reached after Lyons and Xavier coach Chris Mack met late last week and "determined that it would be best for Lyons' career at Xavier to come to a conclusion." This was a rather bold turn, considering Lyons was Xavier's second-leading scorer in 2012, and would be the team's most experienced and most important returning factor in 2012-13.
And apparently Lyons didn't get the memo. On Sunday night, the guard told the Cincinnati Enquirer that he was "surprised by the report." On Monday morning, as speculation that Lyons could continue his career at Arizona reached something of a fever pitch, the mixed signals continued. Lyons told the Arizona Daily Star that he "has not decided whether to leave the Musketeers but 'definitely' has looked into the possibility of transferring to Arizona." From the Daily Star:
“I love Coach [Sean] Miller and the whole coaching staff there, so if I decided to leave, I definitely would look at Arizona,” Lyons told the Star. “I definitely would.”
Which is all well and good, especially if you're an Arizona fan. The connection (former XU coach Sean Miller recruited Lyons to Xavier in the first place) is natural and obvious, and Lyons is clearly hoping to prove himself as a point guard in his senior season. The rigors of his long-shot NBA chances downright demand it.
Except for just one thing: Lyons still hasn't left Xavier. Again from the Daily Star:
“They definitely wanted me back and me and Coach [Chris Mack] had a meeting about it,” Lyons said. “But I’ve gotta think about what‘s best for me and my family so I’m trying to decide." Lyons said he isn’t sure when he will make a decision.
“I still don’t know what I’m going to do yet,” Lyons said. “I’m trying to graduate. I was thinking about it, and the word got out that I was thinking about it, and they ran with it.”
If Lyons decides to stay, he will clearly have much to work out with his current coach, especially if he plans to play point guard for the Musketeers. Lyons has never been a particularly assist-oriented player, and his affinity for bad shots was evident throughout Xavier's struggles this season, at least before the Musketeers made their late-season charge through the A-10 tournament and their unlikely Sweet 16 run. Despite that, Lyons would be a big-time transfer commodity if he does decide to leave, and his skill set and experience would surely be welcomed at a score of programs, perhaps most of all Arizona.
So there you have it: Lyons may stay at Xavier. He may leave for Arizona; he may land somewhere else entirely. Whatever he does, he wants to play point guard. And right now, even he doesn't seem sure of his destination.
In other words: Stay tuned.