"Oh, it's mind-boggling," Lydon said late Monday, after practice ended in Colorado. "I still can't even believe that I'm playing for Team USA. It's such a huge honor. And I'm so thankful for this opportunity and for everyone who's helped me get here."
The 6-foot-8 power forward, who is the 59th-rated prospect in the class of 2015 according to ESPN, nearly didn’t arrive at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo, in time to compete for a spot on the team due to a series of flight delays and cancellations.
Originally scheduled to depart from Albany, N.Y. at 5 a.m. on June 10, Lydon was halfway to the airport from Pine Plains (about an hour south of Albany), when the airline texted an alert that his flight had been cancelled. After returning home and sleeping a few more hours, Lydon and his mom returned to the airport, where they sat for approximately five hours as airline personnel tried to sort out Lydon's dilemma. More cancellations and delays led to a return trip to Pine Plains with the plan to try again the next morning.
"It was crazy and it was frustrating and we were worried about getting him out there," said Susan Lydon, Tyler's mom. "He was getting very upset."
After surviving the first cuts, Lydon continued to work to impress. He listened as U18 (and University of Florida) coach Billy Donovan told prospective players that the committee of coaches wanted players who could seamlessly, unselfishly mesh as teammates. That instruction, Lydon said, guided his performance.
"For me, it was like I really don't have to score because everyone here is so talented, everyone here can score the ball," Lydon said. "So I just tried to make the extra pass, bring the energy and prove that I could help them out."
Joining Lydon on the team is Arizona signee Stanley Johnson and a pair of Duke signees Tyus Jones and Justice Winslow. Texas signee Myles Turner, UNLV signee Dwayne Morgan and 2015 Duke commit Luke Kennard also are on the team. The rest of the team consists of 2015 prospects including Isaiah Briscoe, Jaylen Brown, Allonzo Trier and Stephen Zimmerman.
Update: Morgan will not be able to participate due to a family emergency and was replaced by 2015 prospect Chase Jeter on June 18.
Donovan is assisted by Providence head coach Ed Cooley and Arizona head coach Sean Miller. Donovan was named the 2013 USA Basketball co-National Coach of the Year after leading the USA U19 team to a 9-0 record and a gold medal. Overall,he is 14-0 with two gold medals as head coach of USA team.
The United States will host the FIBA U18 Americas Championship June 20-24 at the Olympic Training Center.