After watching his son join six other Kentucky players in announcing decisions to enter this year's NBA Draft, Tom Lyles put the momentous occasion in perspective. It was, he said, the culmination of a 14-year plan.
Fourteen years? Trey Lyles does not turn 20 until Nov. 5.
By that timetable, Trey Lyles was barely in elementary school when he began working to become a professional basketball player. On that scale, a UK career of one season seems relatively inconsequential (to be exact, 7.1 percent of the time devoted to the goal).
"For us, there was a process," Tom Lyles said. "Tons and tons and tons of things I tried to tap in on."
The elder Lyles, a coach who also works as "a skill developer for ballplayers," brought that expertise to bear with his son. He wanted Trey to know that basketball at the highest level was not only about fun and games.
"Understand there is more to it than just the game," Tom Lyles said. "Once you get to that point (of an NBA Draft), it's no longer a game. It's a man-man's world. It's a business."
Tom Lyles does not mince words when describing the regimen he set up to help his young son prepare.
"His workouts were brutal," the father said. "They were brutal. And I say that because I wanted him to understand that no matter what you do in life, whether as a ballplayer or a truck driver or whatever, you have to be the best you can be. In order to be the best, you have to have a work ethic."
But, brutal? Trey Lyles said he started working out diligently as a third grader.
"At a very early age, he was doing a man's workout," Tom Lyles said.
The father said there were three workouts a day, three or four days a week. Before school. After school. After dinner. Time spent with conditioning. Time spent developing skills like shooting and ball-handling.
The over-arching goal was to test and further develop Trey Lyles' work ethic.
"The only way I thought I was going to instill that was by really pushing him hard, seeing if he had a breaking point," Tom Lyles said. "But the more I pushed, the more he wanted. The more he wanted, the more I gave him."
The breaking point remained undiscovered. "I never found it," Tom Lyles said.
As Trey Lyles recalled it, he began to seriously work out as a third grader. He said he never got or gets sick of basketball.
"Not at all," he said. "It's what I want to do for the rest of my life. I love doing it every day, day in and day out."
Tom Lyles recalled his son questioning him once. After one of those brutal workouts, the father bought bags of ice, put them in a tub of water and told his son to get in.
"For what?!" the son asked.
"Because you have to let your body recover," the father said.
The son got in the tub.
As part of the effort to improve as a player, Trey Lyles did more than simply shoot. He worked on how to shoot, when to shoot, when not to shoot, foot work.
He also watched video of players. Tim Duncan. Hakeem Olajuwon. Patrick Ewing. John Havlicek (surely, the father's influence). Michael Jordan. Scottie Pippen. Dennis Rodman.
Trey Lyles played for various AAU teams, for Team Canada (he was born in Saskatchewan), middle school and high school before coming to UK last summer.
In that context, a few months playing for Coach John Calipari at Kentucky might seem incidental in Trey Lyles becoming a top NBA Draft prospect. That's not the case, Tom Lyles said. The father said the son learned a lot by playing for Calipari (and his assistants) and playing with "some of the best players in the country, pound for pound.
"He has always been able to play alongside other talented guys. He has always been able to find himself and ... be productive alongside other talented players."
UK enriched Trey Lyles' experience at being merely one of several would-be star players.
"It just prepares you if you're fortunate enough to go to the pros," Tom Lyles said of the time at UK. "Because you're not going to go to any pro team and be that guy right off the bat. It's just not going to happen."
Elan Vinokurov, who heads the private scouting and consulting service EV Hoops, noted that Trey Lyles played out of position at Kentucky. The time at UK was beneficial because of the opportunity to practice every day against NBA caliber players.
According to the various mock drafts, Trey Lyles' stock is on the rise. This week, NBADraft.net projected him as the ninth player selected.
"I don't pay attention to it," he said in a tone of voice that suggested he did not want to jinx such a possibility. "It doesn't mean anything, right now. It'll mean something on June 25th."
That's the date of this year's NBA Draft. That's when Trey Lyles officially enters basketball's brightest spotlight. Tom Lyles' influence must lessen.
"I know that time is coming," the father said. "I'm more than prepared for what I call stay-in-my-lane.
"It was the same way when he came to Kentucky. I was dad/trainer/coach. To go from that to, 'OK, Coach, here he is,' to give that authority and that trust to anybody, it's different."
Tom Lyles expects to become emotional as he watches his son on the night of the NBA Draft. All the time and work will enable Trey Lyles to beat the long odds of becoming a first-round draft pick.
"Someone said it's like hitting the lottery," the father said. "But the lottery, you don't have to necessarily work for. You just have to hope for that and draw the right numbers. In this case, it's a lifetime of work."
Then the trainer/coach added, "But also understand that the work is about to begin. It doesn't end. The work is about to begin again. It's, like, 'Man, I went through all this to get here. Now, I have to go through all this again.'
"You don't want to just make it. You want to become it."