Prep boys' basketball: Jake Lindsey fits in while standing out
As soon as the tall, willowy stranger strode in to the Olympus gym last fall, the questions started cropping up.
Who was this new guy who could take almost anybody one-on-one? Was he really the son of Dennis Lindsey, the new Utah Jazz front-office guy? Was he coming out for the team?
Coulson Hardy, a senior guard for the Titans, had come from California the previous year and knew what it was to be the newcomer. He was one of the first to reach out.
"He was absolutely killing everybody," Hardy said. "When he said he was 15, we all were shocked. He had just been dominating."
Olympus opponents now are starting to understand what being in the gym that first day must have felt like. Sophomore Jake Lindsey, now 16, is a 6-foot-4 beanpole, a very nondescript-looking teen in jeans and a sweater.
But on the court, he crosses up his peers. He leaps above them for loose balls. He sends jumpers from well beyond the arc through the net with a perfect swoosh.
Who is this kid?
"Some other schools haven't been nice, I guess," Lindsey said. "If they know me, they sometimes chant 'Jazz Kid' or something like that. But mostly, it's just 'You're terrible,' or something like that. Nothing too bad."
Those who would try to discourage Lindsey slowly are learning that the Texan thrives off adversity. He's a fiery competitor, arguably the most emotional and intense member of Olympus' team.
He's one of the top scorers for a program that went to the Class 4A finals last season, and he also is among the team leaders in steals (1.6 per game) and assists (2.6 per game). His father was a point guard at Baylor who later made a career out of his basketball mind, but Jake plays with his heart.
"He adds character to our team," said Hardy, probably his best friend on the squad. "We're all kind of nice guys. Jake kind of has that edge that we need."
Last summer, Lindsey was working to earn more time for San Antonio Clark's varsity squad. When Dennis Lindsey took over as general manager for the Jazz, that concern suddenly was meaningless. Where would he go to school? Would he make friends there?
Lindsey has settled most of those questions since moving from San Antonio in October. He's gotten in a groove: He has friends to play ball with, friends to watch movies with. Normal life is resuming, and he's got a starting spot on the basketball team to go with it.
"It's definitely starting to feel like home," he said. "I had to get used to the weather, of course. And it's tough because I don't drive yet, but everyone's been great. I like Olympus a lot."
Olympus has churned out lots of low-post specialists and 3-point snipers over the years, but Lindsey could be special. He can slash and penetrate, and he's a fearless shooter from long range. A few summers in the weight room could produce a Division I-caliber player.
"There's a lot of potential there," Olympus coach Matt Barnes said. "He's obviously got talent, and living with his dad has obviously helped him understand the game. He needs to keep working at it to get there."
But that doesn't mean Lindsey is exempt from mistakes that all sophomores make. It was unfortunate, of course, that one of his miscues ended up on SportsCenter after Davis made a miraculous half-court shot off one of his turnovers.
Lindsey has two more seasons left after this one. There's still plenty of time for him to work on his decisionmaking and defense, among other things. And helping Olympus win some games this year shouldn't be too bad, either.
He's fitting in nicely.
"That's something I credit my players for," Barnes said. "A new kid can have a tough time coming in, earning respect and getting along. But the way they've made him feel comfortable, it's made a big difference."