CONCORDIA, Kansas — Cloud County Community College men's basketball player Deon Lyle found his four-year home over the weekend, signing Division I with the University of Texas at San Antonio in Conference USA.
The pen to paper finalized a dream Lyle said he's had as long as he can remember.
"Ever since I was little, I told my dad that I wanted to go Division I. Where I'm originally from in Hastings, Nebraska, a football state, basketball isn't seen as highly. I was told by a lot of people growing up I wasn't going to make it," Lyle said. "I got a chance my senior year at Norton High School, then another chance at Cloud County. I tried to seize my opportunities. Going Division I now still doesn't seem real. It's feels like I'm in a utopia."
Lyle, a 6-foot, 5-inch marksman, helped guide Cloud County to a 20-11 overall record his sophomore season. He tied for the team lead in scoring at 15 points per game and finished with 103 made 3-pointers, breaking the previous school record of 95 set in 2005-06 by Reed Hein.
It was a huge leap forward for Lyle after he played in 25 games as a freshman and averaged 4.3 points in five minutes per contest.
"He struggled through his freshman year as he learned to play college basketball, but it's been a pleasure to watch him grow up as a player and a person," said Cloud County head coach, Chad Eshbaugh. "Deon maybe didn't value the same things I valued when he got here. But as he progressed, he began to see the value in the little things like defending at a high level and shot selection, which were things he didn't really have to value in high school because he was such a talent. Once he bought in fully to becoming a college player, everyone here in Concordia got to enjoy the fruits of his labor because he is an incredibly hard worker."
Lyle's ability to stretch the floor and be an efficient shooter — he ranked 10th in the KJCCC in 3-point field goal percentage (39.6) and is a 41 percent career shoot beyond the arc— should give him an opportunity to make an immediate impact at UTSA.
The Roadrunners (14-19 overall) ranked 349th among NCAA Division I teams in 3-point shooting this past season at 28 percent.
"Deon's length, his quick release, and his ability to kind of turn the page when he misses one really makes him the definition of what a shooter is," Eshbaugh said. "I'm rooting for him, obviously, but I wouldn't be surprised if he's very successful in that role for UTSA."
The chance to play impactful minutes was just one of many selling points UTSA had to offer.
"One thing that really sold me on my visit last week over Spring Break was that UTSA has a top-tier business program," Lyle said. "I met a lot of people during my short two days there that can already help me in my life and help me advance."
In addition to earning a bachelor's degree in Business, Lyle added he is focused on expanding on his skills set in hopes of making one more dream come true: a chance to play in the NBA.