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Ashley Scoby: For Lyles, trip to Indy for Final Four match with Badgers a dream come true

Trey Lyles cuts down the nets after Kentucky defeated Notre Dame in the Elite Eight to earn a trip to his hometown on Indianapolis for the Final Four (UK Athletics Photo /  Chet White)

Trey Lyles cuts down the nets after Kentucky defeated Notre Dame in the Elite Eight to earn a trip to his hometown on Indianapolis for the Final Four (UK Athletics Photo / Chet White)


Long before he tweeted pictures of an NCAA regional trophy, before he tweeted about a snow day at UK and before he Instagrammed pictures of himself and his “brothers” going through the daily life of a Kentucky basketball player, Trey Lyles tweeted a goal for the coming season.

“In 2015 I want to win a National Championship in my hometown Indianapolis!!! #BBN #Cats,” he wrote on April 21, 2014.

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One year later, Lyles is coming full circle. He and his 38-0 Kentucky team are headed to Indianapolis, Lyles’ hometown and the city where he won a state championship his senior year at Arsenal Tech, to play for a spot in the NCAA national title game.

“I’m really excited about it,” he said. “I get to go home and play in my home state, play in Indianapolis. It’s going to be a fun and exciting thing for me and my family.”

Almost from the instant that Lyles heard the 2015 Final Four would be played in Indianapolis, he knew it would be a storybook ending to his freshman college season.

“It was a dream of mine from when I heard that and when it was announced that it was gonna be played there,” he said. “Now we’re headed there, and hopefully we’ll be able to win it all there.”

“One of the things Trey knew was it was gonna be in his hometown, so we needed to get to that spot,” said fellow freshman Karl-Anthony Towns. “When you have someone that wants to make it to something like that, and your family gets together, we try to make it special for him.”

It’s certainly not an unrealistic goal at this point: Lyles is on the best team in men’s college basketball – a team that could eventually be debated as one of the best teams of all time.

The top-seeded Wildcats will take on Wisconsin Saturday night for a spot in the final game, just after Duke meets Michigan State. Their game with the Badgers in the Final Four last year went down as one of the best games in the tournament after Aaron Harrison hit his third last-second, game-winning three-pointer in a row.

And while Lyles is working on coming full-circle from his dream a year ago, the entire team has come full-circle from last year’s preseason. “40-0” T-shirts were printed up for a team loaded with a freshman class of Julius Randle, James Young, Andrew and Aaron Harrison, Dakari Johnson and Marcus Lee. It was something unattainable for a bunch of freshmen, but for this year’s team?

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A perfect season has become a distinct possibility – even a probability, according to some Vegas betting experts.

So while the original 40-0 talk was going on while Lyles was still in high school, the actual, legitimate 40-0 talk has come since Lyles stepped on campus, at least partially thanks to him. He’s averaged 8.7 points and 5.3 rebounds a game, in addition to being the “X-factor” of the team, according to John Calipari.

In less than a week, Lyles and his teammates will try to come full circle from the first whispers of “40-0.” It’s just that Lyles will do so from a personal standpoint, too, in the place he’s dreamed about for a year.

Ashley Scoby is a senior journalism major at the University of Kentucky and a KyForward sports writer. She has reported on the Wildcats for wildcathoops.com, vaughtsviews.com andkysportsreport.com as well as for newspapers in Danville and Glasgow. She will begin a summer internship with Sports Illustrated magazine in New York in June.

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