CHAMPAIGN — Dressed in a white and red Evansville Bosse jacket and sitting next to Larry Austin Jr. of Springfield Lanphier with his cell phone in hand, JaQuan Lyle was laughing and having a good time a half-hour prior to Sunday’s tip.
Lyle, one of the top prospects in a deep Class of 2014, attended his first Illinois game of the season on Sunday.
It was a one-day unofficial visit for the 6-foot-4, 205-pound guard from Indiana who has some of the top programs in the nation coveting him.
“They fit my style of play,” Lyle said of Illinois. “They get the ball out and run. That’s what I like to do. They’re playing pretty good so far, so I want to see how they play against (Michigan).”
Lyle has visited the Illinois campus three times before, but this was his first venture to Champaign-Urbana since Illinois coach John Groce was hired.
Lyle, whose top 10 schools include Illinois, Cincinnati, Georgetown, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Ohio State, Tennessee, Texas and Xavier, did not have a game this weekend. Bosse was scheduled to play Friday night at Owensboro (Ky.), but icy weather conditions postponed the game.
Lyle made the three-hour trek to Champaign on Sunday with family friends and arrived at Assembly Hall about 75 minutes before the game started. He met with Groce for about 10 minutes before the game. Lyle was at the Indiana-Penn State game last Wednesday, and will set foot in many other college arenas before making a decision.
“I just want to take my time and enjoy the process,” Lyle said. “When I feel like it’s the right school and the right time, then I’ll make my decision.”
Lyle said he enjoys watching Illinois guard Brandon Paul play and is a fan of former Ohio State star Evan Turner. Lyle has played multiple positions this season for Bosse, doing he says, “whatever they need me to do.”
“I’m kind of like a big point guard,” Lyle said, “but I’m also comfortable playing off the ball, too.”
Aside from Lyle, Austin was at the Assembly Hall for the first time this season, and his second time checking out Illinois.
He attended the Illinois-Missouri game in St. Louis along with Class of 2013 signee Malcolm Hill from Belleville East and Class of 2014 commit Michael Finke of Centennial. Illinois had 2013 signees Kendrick Nunn and Jaylon Tate from Chicago Simeon in attendance Sunday, as well as Finke.
Austin has offers from Illinois, Bradley, DePaul, Iowa, Kansas State, Memphis, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Southern Methodist and Wake Forest.
“I knew it was going to be an exciting game,” Austin said. “Everybody was going to come out and support Illinois, so the atmosphere will be great. I also knew JaQuan was coming, so I could see him, too.”