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Lobo guard JaQuan Lyle expected to miss season with Achilles injury

University of New Mexico junior combo guard JaQuan Lyle’s season appears to be over.

The 6-foot-5 transfer from Ohio State ruptured his right Achilles tendon during a practice Saturday at UNM, the Lobos’ second official practice of the season.

The Journal confirmed the news Sunday evening and UNM sent out confirmation to media shortly after with comments from both head coach Paul Weir and Lyle.

“I am going into this process trying to get one percent better every day, both physically and mentally, to be ready to compete next season,” said Lyle in the team’s news release. “I am so thankful to everyone for their thoughts and considerations. Go Lobos!”

Added Weir, who enters his second year as head coach, “JaQuan has meant so much to our program in the short time he has been here. Unfortunately this injury postpones his return to playing the game he loves. But his spirits have already turned incredibly positive and we look forward to supporting him in every way possible.”

The injury typically takes about six months recovery time, which makes it unlikely he returns to the court this season.

The Lobos held their first official practice of the 2018-19 season this past Friday, will hold a public Cherry/Silver Game scrimmage event on Oct. 19 and open the regular season Nov. 6 on the road at Cal State Northridge.

Lyle appeared in a walking boot, and without crutches, at Saturday night’s Lobos Homecoming football game, during which the team was recognized between quarters in front of fans.

The Evansville, Ind., native has a history of knee problems, but sat out last season at UNM due to NCAA transfer rules, not because of injury. He has recently said he was in the best shape in his life since coming to UNM and was expected to be one of the Lobos’ top players this coming season – one in which the Lobos are expected to be one of the top three teams in the Mountain West Conference and compete for a postseason tournament berth for the first time since 2014.

Lyle is one of three Division I transfers on this season’s Lobo roster who were generating a lot of excitement and anticipation among fans, along with Connecticut transfer wing Vance Jackson and former Kansas Jayhawk power forward Carlton Bragg, who transferred from Arizona State, but never played for the Sun Devils and will be eligible in the middle of December.

Lyle has two years of playing eligibility remaining and can apply for a medical hardship waiver with the NCAA for a potential sixth year of eligibility. But he’s already taken a long path to what would have been his junior season.

Lyle played high school in his hometown of Evansville, where he was one of the country’s most sought-after prep recruits, originally committing to play at Louisville. He then played his senior season at national power Huntington Prep in West Virginia and eventually signed a National Letter of Intent to play at Oregon, before opting for a post-graduate season at the IMG Academy in Florida and eventually landing at Ohio State for his first two college seasons.

In those two seasons at Ohio State, Lyle played 66 games, starting 54 if those and proved to be a versatile offensive threat who could score and distribute the ball. He was the Buckeye’s third leading scorer as a sophomore in 2017 (11.4 points per game) and fourth leading scorer as a freshman in 2016 (11.2 points per game). He led the team in assists each season.

This preseason, he has been named to several preseason watch lists as one of the top newcomers around the country, and especially in the MWC.

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