Lyons signs contract with French team but hopes to fill Raptors’ point guard needsby Javier Morales on Jul. 11, 2013, under Sports
— Javier Morales (@JavierJMorales) July 12, 2013
HENDERSON, Nev. — A year after filling a need for Arizona at point guard, Mark Lyons is counting on his performance in the upcoming NBA Summer League to convince the Toronto Raptors he can also fulfill their needs.
The Raptors have only one point guard under contract, seven-year veteran Kyle Lowery. Two others — five-year pro John Lucas III and nine-year player Sebastian Telfair — are unrestricted free agents.
Lyons is one of four non-drafted free-agent point guards who Toronto (and other organizations) will scout over the next two weeks during the NBA Summer League at Thomas & Mack and Cox Pavilion here in Las Vegas. The others are Jordan Taylor of Wisconsin, Ricky Harris of UMass and Tywain McKee of Coppin State.
Taylor and Harris played in Italy and McKee in Russia last season after they completed their collegiate careers in 2011-12.
Lyons and his agent Brian Dyke (who also represents former UA player Grant Jerrett) have a contingency plan in case Lyons must head overseas to play professionally. Lyons has signed a contract with French professional team Chorale Roanne contingent on whether he makes an NBA roster.
“As long as I make money playing basketball, my dreams will come true,” Lyons told me this morning after practicing with the Raptors’ summer league team at Del Sol High School in Henderson, Nev. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to playing with a bunch of good guys and see where I’m at talent-wise and just get ready for the next level, wherever that might take me.”
With a professional contract already in tow and Toronto in need of at least a backup point guard, Lyons talked with confidence about his situation. He also spoke with an edge about him after going undrafted despite working out for 12 NBA teams.
“I don’t feel pressure man,” Lyons told me. “I’m always the underdog. I shouldn’t feel the pressure. Everybody else should feel the pressure.
“I didn’t get drafted … I came here with a chip on my shoulder. I am the underdog. So, pressure? No, not at all.”
Throughout his career at Xavier and Arizona, and during his evaluation by NBA teams, Lyons heard the criticism that he is a point guard with a scorer’s mentality. He worked specifically on his point guard skills during the last two months in Los Angeles with NBA players and other hopefuls.
“I have just been working on my passing and shooting off the dribble, things like that,” Lyons said. “I feel like I’m at a better position now to be successful at the next level.”
Lyons’ first game with Toronto in the NBA Summer League is Saturday night against Miami at Thomas & Mack. He will be matched against former UCLA nemesis Larry Drew Jr. in the game. Drew and former Oregon center Michael Dunigan are part of the Heat’s summer league team.
WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.