Scouting Lies and Lyles

  • By Andrew Seitz, Day 57, 2023

This is more of a cautionary tale than an article. In 2022, Rene Lyles, a sophomore wing playing for Kansas, declared for the draft. The initial rankings of the season had him as the 33rd best prospect, a fringe first round pick. In his freshman year he started for Kansas and helped them reach the Elite 8. In his sophomore season, he started all 34 games for the Jayhawks at small forward as the third option behind freshmen SG Marcus Dunn (8th pick in 2022 draft) and C Deandre Stackhouse (6th pick in 2022 draft). Kansas lost in the Sweet 16 to the eventual champion, Trendon Knox’s Arizona, by one point.

Lyles grades at the time were ok but not terrible, maybe a little worse than Tywan Liggins (26th pick) and on par with Jacob Rogers (35th pick). The scouting report showed that he was a potential microwave with some playmaking, but wouldn’t contribute defense or rebounds.

Draft day came, and Lyles had a composite ranking of 36, right between SF Brandon Kelly (16th pick in 2022 draft) and PF/C Omari Woodley (20th pick in 2022 draft). Sixty players were taken in the draft, but not Lyles. He returned to school.

Lyles started again for the 25-9 Jayhawks in 2022, next to SG Kareem Teague (18th pick in 2023 draft), and performed about the same. This season he has been relegated to a reserve role behind younger players of no particular note, and has a negative PER in 38 minutes.

How did a player go from a fringe first round JBL pick to not being able to get on the court in a CJBL game? His scouting report now is putrid, showing 10 bad weaknesses with only decent athletic ability and an excellent first step on the positives. Grades are similarly terrible. Lyles is not good enough to be a professional basketball player anywhere right now.

It seems like the entire JBL saw it, as he was not on any team’s draft list. Though a lot of flops did end up on my shortlist--such as SG Jerrell Newman, who maybe deserves his own article--Lyles didn’t. But why didn’t the scouting services pick up on it?

The story of Rene Lyles has a lot of lessons for future drafts, such as don’t trust the scouting services, don’t trust grades, and don’t trust the underclassmen. Everything should be looked at in tandem. Does the scouting report match the grades? Do the grades match the CJBL results? Even players with first round grades could be busts that never deserve to see a minute of JBL time.