Summer adversity jump started Lindsey

Jalen Lindsey (Franklin, Tenn./Christ Presbyterian) is a lucky kid. He’s found a high school coach with a player’s background and a great setting to develop. Lindsey, a sophomore member of the ESPNU 25, entrusted his game – both on and off the court – to Drew Maddux, a former Vanderbilt player. Maddux, also a former high school teammate of Ron Mercer, knows his stuff.

PCA, according to Maddux, has seven Division I prospects, including Belmont-bound senior Craig Bradshaw (Nashville, Tenn./PCA). However, among the current group of players, Lindsey is the headliner and for good reason.

“Jalen is a special young man,” Maddux said. “Things have come easy, not unlike a lot of kids on the circuit. He had talent and skill set for above his age group. With the ease comes complacency. He was successful as he compared himself with his peers instead of an internal benchmark for greatness.”

Last summer was a tough one for Lindsey. He played with the Tennessee Travelers in the U-17 division of the EYBL. He took his lumps but according to Maddux, that was part of the progression plan.

“First, the Nike EYBL is a man’s league,” Maddux said. “Second, he’s been a post player his entire life because he’s been taller than everyone. However, we knew he was going to be a small forward. He had two things working against him because he was playing two age groups up and he was making a position change all in the same summer. That being said it was a struggle for him on the surface. Deeper, it ignited a fire inside him to work in a way he hadn’t worked before.”

Lindsey clearly had the talent but like Maddux said, there was something missing on the circuit. The difference between Lindsey and other young kids who struggle is that his support group was there for him and part of the growth plan was learning how to deal with the setbacks. Last summer’s struggles set him up for this season’s successes. The small forward is shooting 61 percent from the floor while averaging 10.5 rebounds. As a freshman, he didn’t make a 3-pointer. This year he’s made 16.

The cousin of Syracuse lead guard Brandon Triche, Lindsey will have his choice of schools. Tennessee is out of the 500-mile comfort zone that the Cuse prefers to recruit from but this kid is worth a follow, especially given his relationship with Triche.

Lindsey sports five offers: Vanderbilt, Tennessee, NC State, Memphis and Alabama. Cuonzo Martin, Kevin Stallings, Anthony Grant and Josh Pastner have been omnipresent in his recruitment. North Carolina, Louisville, Kentucky and Xavier are heavily involved; it may be only a matter of time before they move on him.

No matter what the future has in store – and it’s bright – the summer of 2011 when Lindsey struggled, as a young freshmen against older, more established players, was a step in his development. “In college, when you look back on it, that will be a defining summer for him,” Maddux said. “It set him up for long term success.”

We’ve been talking a lot about adversity and dealing with it a lot in this blog. Lindsey’s story is one to file away for the future.