Friar Basketball

Jalen Lindsey Found His Way at PC

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It’s hard to pinpoint when it all started to click for Jalen Lindsey.

There were flashes in his first two seasons in black and white.

In just his fifth collegiate game, Lindsey was lighting it up against Florida State, knocking down 5-6 from 3-point range and looking every bit the highly-regarded prospect we’d been reading about since the summer of 2012.

Lindsey was Ed Cooley’s first visit during the September recruiting contact period in 2012, back when he was ranked the 16th best junior in the country according to ESPN. Cooley and company returned to Tennessee on multiple occasions during Lindsey’s junior year, and their efforts paid off when Lindsey was the first to commit to PC’s class of 2014.

And what a class it turned out to be — a five man haul that included an NBA Draft pick (Ben Bentil), an All Big East point guard (Kyron Cartwright), and top 100 center Paschal Chukwu.

Lindsey sprained his ankle the day following the Florida State win, and couldn’t seem to find his shooting stroke again until the tail end of the season. He knocked down three 3-pointers in a thriller against Villanova in the Big East Tournament Semifinals, and four more in Providence’s NCAA Tournament loss to Dayton. On a night when everything seemed to go wrong for the Friars, Lindsey may have been their best player in the loss to Dayton. 

The hope was that a return to health in his sophomore season would result in more of the Florida State/postseason Lindsey, but instead his outside shot abandoned him for much of the year. He had an outstanding three-game stretch in February and early March, most notably scoring 30 points on 6-9 from 3 at St. John’s, but his numbers dropped as a sophomore and his confidence seemed to waver.

Lindsey shot just 27% from beyond the 3-point line, and at one point his frustration appeared to boil over when he “liked” a number of cringe-worthy tweets that were critical of his game.

Providence’s fanbase wasn’t kind to Jalen Lindsey throughout much of his sophomore season. The 2015-16 Friars were a rollercoaster, steamrolling to a 14-1 start with wins over #9 Butler and #11 Arizona in their first 15 games (their only loss was to #3 Michigan State in a winnable game).

After an 82-76 victory at #1 Villanova upped PC’s record to 17-3, expectations were through the roof.

Then the bottom fell out for a month.

Providence dropped six of their next eight games, and suddenly talk of a top 2-3 seed in the NCAA Tournament was replaced by questions of how things went wrong so quickly. When those questions begin, scapegoats emerge — and a cold shooting Lindsey was an all too obvious target.

Lindsey’s sophomore season had to have been filled with frustration, despite Providence reaching the NCAA Tournament and winning their first game against USC. Unlike the hot close to his freshman year, Lindsey was limited to 1-10 from deep in two tournament games.

Reflecting back on that time now, Lindsey is both honest and accountable, “It was very difficult, but being around my team and my coaches — they never gave up on me. Having them do that helped me get through that tough time with me playing the way I was. So, I want to give all the credit to them for helping me do that.”

As a junior, Lindsey was a different player. He was stronger, made technical tweaks to his jumper that made a significant difference, and he might have been the best defender on the team.

So, when did it all turn around for Lindsey? What clicked and turned him into the 46% shooter from 3 we saw last season — the shooter who not only made a high percentage, but knocked shots down at critical spots?

There were two moments in the first eight games of his junior season that may have provided the spark.

When Providence took on #7 Virginia in an out of conference game, Lindsey seemed a forgotten part of the offense. In the two games prior to Virginia, Lindsey took just four shots combined against Memphis and St. Francis, and didn’t score a point.

Yet, against Virginia he got hot, and unlike in seasons past, he stayed that way for the next four months. Lindsey broke out with 18 points on 4-6 shooting from deep against the Cavaliers.

He made a 3-pointer in every game for the rest of the season.

Lindsey connected on 13 3-pointers over his next four games, which included a win against #21 Rhode Island — a game that provided a second turning point.

All offseason, the talk had been that this was the year that Cooley would finally fall to the Rams, but Lindsey hit a ridiculously difficult fadeaway jumper to push PC’s lead to four with 43 seconds remaining to all but seal the game.

While his late jumper is what everyone will remember from the URI game, Lindsey also showed flashes of what he would do for the rest of his junior season.

With Rhode Island leading 47-40 in the second half, it appeared as though they were primed to pull away, but Lindsey connected on a 3-pointer and followed that up with an offensive rebound and a pair of free throws to bring the Friars right back into the game at 47-45.

That was the way much of Lindsey’s season went. Cartwright was deservingly named the Big East’s Most Improved Player, and Rodney Bullock was All Big East, but in re-watching Providence’s games from a year ago, what stands out isn’t just Lindsey’s improved stroke, but how he consistently made them just when the Friars needed it. 

Need proof?

Lindsey’s game took off when Big East play began, and with his newfound confidence from beyond the arc, he also began using his athleticism to help on the glass more frequently.

By season’s end, his confidence was at an all-time high — and the postseason form we saw during his freshman year returned in the NCAA Tournament against USC when Lindsey was blazing hot from deep in the first half. 

Now listed at 6’7, 227 pounds, Lindsey provides tremendous value to Cooley and the Friars with his outside shooting ability and defensive prowess. He’s a long, athletic defender, who can effectively guard most wings. He’s shown a propensity to take and make shots on the biggest stages, and consistently played 35-40 minutes in Big East play last season due to his versatility on both sides of the ball.

“I want to impact the game more than just shooting. I want to maybe take guys off of the dribble, get rebounds inside — things like that are what the coaches are looking for me to do this year,” said Lindsey of his upcoming senior season.

His game could go to the next level if he were to hit the offensive glass with greater consistency, or flash more offense off of the dribble, but Cooley would gladly sign up for a repeat of last season’s outside shooting numbers and rock solid defense.

While it’s hard to pinpoint when the light bulb turned on for Lindsey, it stayed on after the Virginia game as he didn’t just find his niche last year, he excelled in it. In an era in which players are quick to transfer, and fanbases are even quicker to give up on players, Lindsey’s junior year transformation is a reminder that patience is a virtue all too often forgotten in college basketball.

“Having a tough freshman and sophomore year, it felt like I had to work a little harder than I already was. Making that jump from sophomore to junior year was big, but I’m ready to make a bigger jump in my senior year.”

Twitter: @Kevin_Farrahar

Email: kevin.farrahar@friarbasketball.com

5 Comments

  1. Derec Lamenxola

    October 11, 2017 at 12:32 am

    Providence College Mens Basketball Get Redey Time TO Get Redey And Linsdey IS Getinf Redey Jumping His Senior Year And Im Am Redey Time To Be Redey Friar Basketball Providence College Friars Mens Basketball Providence College Friars Mens Basketball Providence College Friars Mens Basketball Makai Ashton Langford Geting Redey For This Year And We Need Emmit Holt Come Back And We Need Emmitt Holt Come Back Snnething New On Makai Ashton Langford

  2. Anonymous

    October 11, 2017 at 1:23 am

    I’m looking for a big season from Lindsey. He is big, strong, good shooter and should have the maturity to be zn All East 2nd team

  3. Rich Panciocco

    October 11, 2017 at 11:47 am

    Jalen has the potential to average a double/double in every game this year if he stays motivated. He really needs to be aggressive on the boards which will in turn give him more confidence with his game. Looking forward to a breakout year from Jalen this year.

    Rich “P”

  4. Chris D

    October 11, 2017 at 4:46 pm

    Many Friar fans stuck with Lindsey his Freshman and Sophomore year. He was a big commit and many of us cinsidered ourselves fortunate for him and his local ties that may have helped seal the deal.

    Keep Going JL21. See you at Alumni and then the Dunk!

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