Basketball, Profiles, Sports

5-foot-7 freshman guard continues to shatter expectations

Heart over height.

It’s a message that 5-foot-7, 160-pound Chris Lykes has tattooed across his chest and a motto he has lived by his entire life.

Lykes, a freshman at the University of Miami, was ranked No. 48 as a recruit on the ESPN Top-100 list. Described as an explosive point guard with the ability to attack the basket and shoot from long distances, he was a highly-coveted prospect.

But that wasn’t always the case.

“There was always doubt,” Lykes said. “In middle school, it was like, ‘Okay, well can he do it in high school?’ And in high school, it’s like, ‘Well can he do that in college?’ I just gotta keep proving people wrong.”

DSC01166.jpg

Chris Lykes, a 5-foot-7 freshman guard, is motivated to prove that size doesn't matter when it comes basketball. He is expected to make his college debut during Miami’s 2017 opener against Gardner-Webb University Nov. 10 at the Watsco Center. Photo credit: Hunter Crenian

Lykes, a native of Mitchellville, Maryland, averaged 22 points and more than four assists per game while shooting 47 percent from the three-point line in his junior season at Gonzaga College High School. He was named Washington D.C.’s Gatorade Player of the Year that season.

That’s when he started getting calls from some of the best basketball programs in the country.

In November 2016, he decided to go with the major school that gave him his first offer, UM – a place where undersized guards, such as Shane Larkin and Angel Rodriguez, excelled.

“It’s one of the main reasons why I came here,” Lykes said. “Coach tells me that we run a lot of ball screens, and that really helps for me to be able to make plays. I can maybe get the big to switch off, and then I’m pretty much faster than the big, so I can attack or kick it.”

Lykes has carried a chip on his shoulder since he was young. Whenever he gets on the court, his motivation is to show people not only that he belongs, but that size doesn’t always matter in basketball.

He has never looked at his size as a weakness, choosing to be thankful for his talents and embracing the challenge.

“He’s never let that be a determinant to who he is and what he’s capable of being,” his high school coach Stephen Turner said. “He’s always been that little monster on the court. Some assume just because he’s this little guy that they can take advantage of him, but he has never let that stop him.”

Lykes, a high energy player whom Miami coach Jim Larrañaga has compared to 5-foot-9 NBA All-Star Isaiah Thomas, has translated this mindset into an attacking mentality on the court, which helps him succeed no matter who he is playing against.

“When I was younger, my parents use to always tell me ‘No fear,’” Lykes said. “That was my nickname for a while because I would do things on the court without necessarily thinking about the consequences. I don’t fear anybody on the court ­– I don’t fear anyone in general.”

The Miami coaching staff and players look at Lykes’ size as an advantage. Because he stays low to the ground with the ball in his hands, he’s that much harder to guard when he uses his speed and agility to get past the defender.

No one can attest to this more than fellow freshman guard Lonnie Walker, a five-star recruit out of Reading, Pennsylvania. During a span of just a few months, Walker and Lykes have become best friends. They even refer to themselves as “twin brothers” because of their similar personalities.

Walker calls himself Lykes’ biggest fan.

“You don’t see anyone like Chris,” Walker said. “Name another 5-foot-7 guard who can dominate almost anywhere at any type of level. I gave him his own definition. If you do something that’s crazy, that’s just Chris.”

Lykes’ attitude doesn’t change off the court. Turner said he has always been a natural leader – “the guy that people follow.”

“Most guys walk around the big, buff quarterback – the pretty boy,” Turner said. “Lykes kind of changed that perception. He’s not just a vocal leader, he leads by example.”

Lykes is also changing the academic narrative for collegiate athletes. He wants to study mechanical engineering while at Miami and has talked about his passion to build.

“It’s a tough degree to chase, but he doesn’t settle for average,” Turner said. “Teachers love him because he works so hard. He’s a true testament to what it means to be a student-athlete.”

Lykes is expected to be the “energy guy,” to push the pace, make plays and score as soon as he comes off the bench this season. Miami’s 2017 opener against Gardner-Webb University is set for an 8 p.m. tipoff Nov. 10 at the Watsco Center.

“He’s never been the nervous type, at least he doesn’t show it,” Turner said when asked about Lykes’ emotions prior to his first game. “He just steps up to the challenge.”

November 6, 2017

Reporters

Isaiah Kim-Martinez

Isaiah Kim-Martinez can be reached on Twitter at @isaiah_km.


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

The Hurricanes wrapped up spring with a big, as in 6-5 and 290 pounds, surprise on Saturday. Four-st ...

Spring ended Saturday for the Miami Hurricanes, with hundreds of UM football alumni and family membe ...

One day left for the youngsters to show University of Miami coach Mark Richt what they can do. One d ...

Former Miami Norland High star Zach Johnson is coming home for his final year of college basketball. ...

They have been feted and adored for years by football fans from coast to coast. But legends Frank Go ...

The Energy and Conservation Organization was recognized with the 2018 Roberta “Bosey” Fulbright Foot ...

The Brazilian judge whose office spearheaded a massive corruption and bribery investigation said tha ...

The director of the University of Miami's Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, who passed away Ap ...

Business Professor Patricia Abril, and Trustee Stuart Miller receive Faculty Senate's highest h ...

Miami's women's track and field team entered the top-15 in the latest edition of the NCAA ...

Junior righthander Andrew Cabezas was recognized with ACC Pitcher of the Week honors after an outsta ...

Hurricanes record their best round of tournament on Monday. ...

The University of Miami men's tennis team highlighted its Senior Day with a 4-0 sweep against D ...

The No. 17 Miami women's tennis team wrapped up the regular season with its sixth straight vict ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.