Next week, Nashville (Tenn.) Christ Presbyterian Academy will compete in the class 2A state tournament. CPA has plenty of young talent, but the improvement of junior Jalen Lindsey has been huge.
A 6-foot-6 small forward who already ranks No. 30 nationally in the 2014 Rivals150, Lindsey has always displayed a high level of talent.
However, there have been times where he has not been as aggressive as he is capable. That's starting to change.
"That's an accurate assessment of how he has been," CPA coach Drew Maddux said of Lindsey's past efforts. "The one thing that I've been proudest of is that this year is the first time I've seen him cross over into the area of being committed every day. Not only attacking every game, but attacking every day and every practice."
A big-time athlete who has an explosive first step and deft shooting touch, Lindsey has really focused his energy.
"He's making that commitment in everything he's doing," said Maddux. "We've seen it on the basketball court this year. He's a Mr. Basketball finalist and he's lead our team with big baskets and in big scenarios."
Of course Lindsey's athleticism is easy to notice, but he's more than just an athlete in high tops.
"You can't talk about him without talking about his athleticism and length," Maddux told Rivals.com. "He's very explosive and a great finisher around the rim and he has strength to take and finish through contact. His shot progression from the time he was younger until now has gotten drastically better.
"He's a great teammate and he's very coachable. He's going to fit any culture that he enters into."
A high-character individual off the court and good student in the classroom, Lindsey grew up a post player before making the transition to the wing in high school. While he's worked to be more consistently dominant, he's also worked on fine tuning his perimeter game.
"He's making that jump from being a post player when he was 12 to being a small forward," Maddux said. "His ball-handling is better and he's making great decisions with the ball and being able to push it in transition and has been good in the half court as well. He's learning all those things he needs to do to play on the perimeter."
Programs such as North Carolina, Kentucky and LSU have nosed around but are yet to offer. So Lindsey has been focusing primarily on a group of nine that have offered, including Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Auburn, Mississippi State, Florida, N.C. State, Providence, Ohio State and Louisville.
At a glance, Providence looks to be a little bit of an outlier. As it turns out, Lindsey has a handful of ties to the program.
"The thing that tied him to Providence is that his father Walter is from Providence and his entire family all still live in that area so there was a natural geographic tie," said Maddux. "The second tie is the relationship they've built and the coaching style that Ed Cooley and his staff use is kind of similar to how we do things at CPA.
"Third is what Coach Cooley and his staff are doing on the national level. They are really trying to enhance their brand and it has showed with some of the recruits they are landing."
After next week's run at a state title, Lindsey will play in the Nike EYBL with the Southern Stampede. For now, there are no plans to cut his list down and from the sounds of it he's not likely to trim things until the end of the summer.
Lindsey, his coaches and his family have regular communication about the recruiting process and have done their best to make sure they look into every aspect of the decision. Academic resources will be important as will the social and family aspects of a program. Of course, winning doesn't hurt either.
"I think one is a winning tradition and a culture of winning because when he gets done here he has a chance to be the all-time winningest player in Tennessee basketball," said Maddux when asked what other factors will drive Lindsey's college decision. "Two, he wants to contribute early like any kid would. Three, he wants to be pushed and he wants to be developed.
"His dream is like anybody else's and he wants to play at the professional level. So he wants to go somewhere that they have a track record for that."
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