Former UMBC star Jairus Lyles talks to the media after trying out Tuesday for the Washington Wizards. (Don Markus/Baltimore Sun video)
Four months after making a shot that propelled the UMBC men’s basketball team on a Cinderella run through the NCAA tournament, including a historic upset of top-seeded Virginia, Jairus Lyles has made it to the NBA.
The 6-foot-2, 175-pound undrafted guard was added to the roster of the Utah Jazz’s NBA Summer League team, the organization announced Thursday night. Lyles will be the first Retriever to play in the 12 years the NBA has held summer-league play.
"We are so excited for Jairus as he enters the next chapter of his basketball career,” coach Ryan Odom said. “All of Retriever Nation will be pulling for him as he pursues his dream of playing in the NBA."
Both of Lyles’ career-defining moments came in March. His first was a go-ahead, last-second 3-pointer that stunned top-seeded Vermont in the America East Conference tournament final. His second came in UMBC’s next game, as he led the No. 16 seed Retrievers with 28 points in a 74-54 win over the Atlantic Coast Conference champion Cavaliers. It was UMBC’s first-ever win in the NCAA tournament.
Lyles finished with 1,751 points over parts of three seasons (86 games) at the Catonsville school, the second most all time at UMBC, and scored the most in a single year in program history last season (665). He is the only Retriever ever to average more than 20 points per game (20.4) and finished with 380 made free throws, a school record.
The Jazz will host games July 2, 3 and 5 before flying to Las Vegas for the league’s official NBA Summer League, a 12-day circuit.
Lyles could not immediately be reached for comment. He told HoopsHype on Wednesday: “Teams already knew that I can score so they wanted to see the other things that I can do — whether it’s defending or keeping the ball in front of me. Scoring was able to get me these opportunities and get my foot in the door because I was able to do it so much in college. But it’s the extra things that will stick with me in the league.”
Note: Tiwian Kendley, who spent two years at Morgan State, will play for the Washington Wizards’ Summer League team in Las Vegas. Kendley, who went undrafted this month, signed an agreement to play for Washington’s team earlier this week. A 6-foot-4 guard, he reached 1,000 career points faster than anyone else in Morgan State’s Division I history, finishing with 1,032 points in just 44 career games. He averaged 26.1 points per game and grabbed 4.0 rebounds and had 2.1 steals per game in his senior season.