Sydney Jaynes will remember the summer of 2019 for the rest of her life.
Over the past 10 weeks, the incoming Trinity Lutheran junior has become the focus of multiple NCAA Division I women’s basketball programs.
Since the third weekend in May, she has received offers from Murray State University, Purdue University Fort Wayne, Bradley University, University of Toledo and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
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While all of the attention has been a whirlwind experience for the 6-foot-3 forward, she’s enjoying every part of the recruiting process.
“Honestly, it’s the best thing ever,” Jaynes said. “I will never forget my first offer was Murray State. I played at an exposure tournament, and they were there watching all my games. I told my parents to not tell me if there was anyone there watching. My coaches and parents knew, but I didn’t. At the very last game of the tournament, the Murray State coach went over to my AAU coach and said, ‘Give her this number, and if she calls tonight, we’re going to offer her.’
“As I was getting my stuff on, my coach told me to call, and I did. I broke into tears. My team found out, and it was hugs all around. I was just so excited to feel loved and appreciated like that.”
Jaynes came to Trinity with a championship pedigree. As an eighth grader at St. John’s Lutheran School Sauers, Jaynes and the Raiders won the 2017 Lutheran Basketball Association of America’s National Championship.
Growing up, Jaynes always competed against older kids at Sauers.
“When my sister (Grace) was in middle school, I started going to their eighth-grade practices,” Jaynes said. “I would do everything with them. My mom (Mary Ellen Jaynes) and dad (Douglas Jaynes) told me it was a way to get better, but I never really thought about the whole college thing until about seventh- or eighth-grade year.
“My eighth-grade year, I started believing in myself, and I got on a high-end AAU team. We were playing with some really good girls, and I was like, ‘Wow! This could really be a thing for me.’”
Trinity varsity coach Mike Lang said they knew Jaynes had potential before middle school.
“We probably knew that she was going to be special in the fourth grade,” Lang said. “We paid a lot of attention to the kids at Sauers, but our eyes were on Syd.”
In her freshman year at Trinity, Jaynes averaged 11.1 points, 7.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.3 steals and 2.4 blocks per game while helping the Cougars make it all the way to the regional championship game. Jaynes shot 41% from the field that year and had five double-doubles.
Jaynes didn’t slow down for the Cougars her sophomore year, as she boosted her averages to 14.2 points, 7.5 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.6 steals and 3.9 blocks while shooting 44% from the field.
At the season’s end, Jaynes was named to the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association small school all-state first team.
Over two years at Trinity, Jaynes already has recorded 695 points, 402 rebounds, 143 assists, 174 blocks and 79 steals for the Cougars.
“We have talked to coaches from smaller schools before, but when you have Division I coaches requesting practice schedules and wanting updates on progress, it’s exciting,” Lang said. “It’s neat and different. You try to keep things as normal as possible, but they’re obviously in here for a reason.”
In the offseason, Jaynes works with Indiana Elite Prime, an AAU team coached by Tony Marlin and Phil Blazek.
Jaynes has played top-level talent across the country and been to multiple exposure camps with the program, which is made up of incoming juniors and seniors and plays in the 17U Gold Adidas Gauntlet.
Lang said Jaynes’ AAU coaches stay in close contact with the high school program.
“I have a really good relationship with her AAU coaches, and the three of us work really well together,” he said. “We’re in constant communication. It has been a really good process, and you don’t hear that a lot. It’s all about getting Syd where she wants to be and to reach her goals. One of her goals is to be a Junior All-Star. We’re going to do everything we can to get her there.”
The busy schedule doesn’t end with AAU for Jaynes, as she also attends all of the practices, camps and games for Trinity’s high school team.
The beginning of June was loaded with basketball.
“The other day, we had a shootout and played all day. I played four games that day, and they were about 45 minutes each,” Jaynes said. “The next day, I played at an elite camp in Dayton, which was five hours straight. I took a break day, and then I do little workouts on the bike or swimming. We then had IU team camp, and I played three games that day. The next day, I played one game at the IU team camp and then did an all-star game.
“Apart from that, basketball practices are two hours, and some days where I just have volleyball, I will drive to the Sauers gym and spend an hour and a half just working on myself.”
Lang said he has shut Jaynes down for the summer at Trinity so she can focus on college visits and her AAU team. While she isn’t playing, Jaynes is still in attendance for all of the events.
Jaynes has a strong set of skills, but she’s still getting pushed to improve.
“We push her every single day,” Lang said. “We want to see her control the boards and battle. Maybe one fault that she has is that she likes to stand and watch a little bit when a shot goes up. That’s one thing the coaches are looking at. They want to see her go get rebounds. When she gets a rebound, she can bring it up like a guard. She has great court vision and is a great passer. We use her a lot to break the press. We’re also working on post moves with her left hand.”
Jaynes said she also has started focusing more on her nutrition recently and works with trainer Jason Enrique to work on her flexibility.
While her calendar is full, Jaynes wouldn’t have it any other way.
“There are so many reasons why I love doing this,” Jaynes said. “I love playing the game and being successful.”