UK Men's Basketball

Meet the Cats: Kentucky's Trey Lyles patiently putting it all together

Kentucky Wildcats forward Trey Lyles (41) smiled at Kentucky Wildcats guard Aaron Harrison (2) who was trying to make him laugh while he was having his photo made during the UK men's basketball team photo day held in the Joe Craft Center in Lexington, Ky., Thursday September 04, 2014. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff
Kentucky Wildcats forward Trey Lyles (41) smiled at Kentucky Wildcats guard Aaron Harrison (2) who was trying to make him laugh while he was having his photo made during the UK men's basketball team photo day held in the Joe Craft Center in Lexington, Ky., Thursday September 04, 2014. Photo by Charles Bertram | Staff Herald-Leader

Kentucky freshman Trey Lyles likes to work jigsaw puzzles.

"Just to be able to calm down and forget everything else," he said. "Just focus on one thing besides basketball, school or anything else that is happening."

That sounded like puzzles help him escape. Not necessarily.

"I wouldn't say it's an escape," he said. "It's just something I like to do for fun."

So far, the biggest puzzle he's put together is a 3,000-piece view of Las Vegas.

"It wasn't that bad," he said. "I think it was two weeks it took me. That was spare time here and there, and really not just working on it day after day."

His father, Tom Lyles, said the work on puzzles fits the UK player's quiet personality. "Sometimes he's so quiet at the house, if you didn't know any better, you'd think he wasn't here," the elder Lyles said.

Besides providing a challenge and a bit of fun, the puzzles also helped Lyles develop patience. It's a trait that probably came in handy this summer and fall as he worked to overcome a leg injury that sidelined him during UK's six exhibition games in the Bahamas in August.

"I definitely had to develop that because I wasn't very patient when I was younger," he said.

Tom Lyles noted how his son would patiently turn a pile of puzzle pieces into a complete picture.

"He would sit there and be very meticulous and patient with it," the elder Lyles said. "Separating all the colors. Putting them in separate piles. And then after he got everything separated, all 3,000 pieces, he would start putting together the board. ...

"To me, 3,000 sounds like a whole lot. But he'd have half the puzzle put together in one day. He just had stick-to-itiveness, and he did not want to fail.

"We recognized that early."

To enhance that attribute, Tom Lyles encouraged his son to also work on putting together model cars.

"Something I passed on to him that I got from my oldest brother," Tom Lyles said. "I enjoyed it."

Not to belittle the value of fun, but the father had something greater in mind when he supported Trey's interest in puzzles and model cars.

"I started using that to talk about life," he said. "Just because it's hard, and it might get difficult, you can't quit. You can't quit.

"At times you'll be extremely frustrated, just like you get with this puzzle."

Tom Lyles' advice was to take a break from the challenge.

"You regroup," he said. "You come back to it, and you come back to it with a fresh set of eyes and a fresh mind."

Tom Lyles, once a professional player, was also thinking ahead to his son playing in the NBA. Of course, it's not a farfetched idea given Trey Lyles' status as a McDonald's All-American and so-called five-star prospect.

Working a puzzle or putting together a model car might be invaluable.

"A lot of time in the pros, you have so much time on your hands," the elder Lyles said. "That's something a lot of people get in trouble with. They don't know how to manage their time. They have nothing to do. They get bored. So they go out and do stupid stuff."

Better to work a puzzle, the father figured.

"You're still doing something constructive," Tom Lyles said. "It's still something challenging. It makes you think, but you're still having fun."

After a moment, the elder Lyles added one other plus about puzzles.

"It's something other than video games," he said.

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