It’s easy to get a gymnasium buzzing when a small school like Section 9’s Pine Plains has high school basketball players who stand 6-foot-8 and 6-foot-9.
It’s now a regular occurrence at games and practices for college coaches to show up to take a look at 6-8 junior swingman and Division I prospect Tyler Lydon; his brother, 6-9 senior forward Zach Lydon; as well as 6-3 senior point guard Justin Cooper.
“It’s great for them and it’s great for their families,” Pine Plains coach Brendan LoBrutto said of his trio of prospects. “It shows what hard work can do. Obviously, everyone sees the size, but there’s a lot more to it. They work hard. As a coach, knowing how hard they work and that they are being rewarded with recognition is nice to see.”
All three players competed in AAU basketball this past summer for the Albany City Rocks, the same program for which Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Will Daniels, Poughkeepsie’s Edwin Ubiles and Red Hook’s Greg Nero played before moving on to Rhode Island, Siena and Fairfield, respectively. Ubiles finished last season in the NBA.
Tyler Lydon is the Bomber getting the most interest from Division I colleges. His current list of prospective suitors includes Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference schools Marist, Siena, Fairfield and Quinnipiac, which will join the league in July, as well as Syracuse, Providence, Virginia Tech, Boston University and nearly a dozen others that have taken notice of the big man with guard skills and tendencies.
“It’s fun,” Tyler Lydon said of his college recruitment process. “It definitely makes you want to work harder and play harder. Everyone’s expecting us to win and everything, but we’ve got to earn it. The whole process is fun.”
The only school to which Tyler Lydon has made an official visit is James Madison, which is coached by former Marist coach Matt Brady. Brady made the junior an offer when he visited the Harrisonburg, Va., campus in June. Tyler Lydon said he will make his college decision sometime after the school year.
“I’ve got to feel for everything,” Tyler Lydon said. “I’m just trying to have fun with it.”
While teammates are enjoying Tyler Lydon’s whirlwind nationwide recruitment, some of them are getting attention of their own. Zach Lydon has had a strong start to this season and is, himself, beginning to get some Division I looks.
“I have a lot of Division III schools looking at me. I think I might be going to prep school,” Zach Lydon said. “I know Tyler’s got a lot of heavy recruiting going on.”
LoBrutto said some schools while watching Tyler have noticed the strong start Zach has had to his senior year.
“He obviously has the size and the talent and the outside touch,” LoBrutto said of the senior. “He’s really started to mix it up down low, and overall, just matured. The Division I schools that have been recruiting Tyler are a little surprised that Zach hasn’t been getting more looks.”
Zach Lydon has enjoyed watching his younger brother become a sought-after commodity.
“It’s pretty exciting seeing him grow up and just start to turn into a pretty dominant player in Section 9 and the state,” Zach Lydon said. “He’s putting his name out there and it’s starting to work. I’m pretty proud of him.”
Like Zach Lydon, Cooper said he had received interest mainly at the Division III and prep-school levels.
“Playing with the City Rocks was awesome,” Cooper said. “It was such a great experience and helped me coming into this season. We’ll see where it takes me.”
Local coaches have taken notice of Pine Plains’ size and skill. The Bombers’ other two starters are 6-7 center Adam Miller and 6-2 shooting guard Dakota Piazzi.
“They’re a dominant team,” said Rhinebeck coach David Aierstok, whose Hawks lost to the Bombers, 68-27, on Dec. 11. “It stands out when they’re in certain defenses. They’re huge. They can just cover so much ground, especially on defense.”
For Tyler Lydon, even with all the attention, his goals for this year’s Bombers (2-2) are simple.
“We definitely want to win states,” Tyler Lydon said. “Our team has always had the same goal. We’re going to go out and work hard.”
Phil Strum: firstname.lastname@example.org, 845-437-4847, Twitter: @PJStrum