After two seasons in uniform, JaQuan Lyle was back in Value City Arena on Tuesday night — albeit with a different view.
Lyle, who quit the program during the spring and ultimately signed with New Mexico, was in the stands as a spectator as the Buckeyes hosted the Citadel. OSU won 94-65. At halftime, he told The Dispatch that, yes, it felt a little weird but that he was glad to be back.
“It’s definitely hard because all these guys are my brothers for the most part,” he said. “It’s tough to watch, but I’m happy to see all of them doing good.”
As a sophomore, Lyle averaged 11.4 points, had a team-high 142 assists and made 23 starts before being lost to the strange offseason that swept up the program. Before coach Thad Matta was fired, Lyle was arrested in his hometown in May and it was subsequently revealed that he was no longer with the team.
Through it, Lyle said Buckeyes senior forward Jae’Sean Tate remained supportive and helpful, offering up some advice.
“It was very tough, but with my family and friends behind me it was easy to get through, especially with JT,” Lyle said. “He was one of the main factors for me deciding to leave or not. He just told me to make the best decision for myself and every step of the way, everything I dealt with all spring and all summer he was there with me so I appreciate him for that.”
“Just the relationship I built with the coaching staff there,” he said of why he picked New Mexico. “I felt like I deserved them. That’s one of the reasons I left here was because there really was no trust, so I think it was a good decision.
“I just felt like it was best that I went somewhere else. I didn’t feel like I could be successful both on and off the court here, so it was best for me to start over somewhere fresh and somewhere new.”
When Tate threw down a monstrous, one-handed dunk during the first half, Lyle rose to his feet and roared along with most of the crowd. During the first half, he enjoyed some nachos and some hugs and handshakes with parents and family members of the current team.
Lyle missed time late last season while his sister suffered severe complications from childbirth, but Lyle said both she and her child are 100 percent healthy now.
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