Jaynes lures fan club to Butler debut

INDIANAPOLIS — Four-year starter, Indiana All-Star.

Sydney Jaynes opened on Broadway Wednesday night to mixed reviews — mostly from her — but with a resounding response from an enthusiastic audience transported from Seymour.

This was an audience that has followed her basketball career for years and wanted to be present for the special show. Call it “Trinity Lutheran Night” at Hinkle Fieldhouse as the 6-foot-3 freshman competed in the first game of her college career for Butler University.

The transition from Indiana Class A high school status to NCAA Division I is an Olympian-length leap, and it was a long time coming for Jaynes, who made her college commitment to the Bulldogs in May 2020.

To some, it felt as if a millennia’s worth of history passed, including something called the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It feels like a long time ago,” Jaynes said after Butler fell to Indiana University’s No. 8-ranked club 86-63. “But also that it just happened. It’s weird that way.”

While she mostly played in the low post against IU, Jaynes is multi-skilled with the ability to pass, dribble down-court and shoot from the outside, as evidenced by her career high school stats of 15.3 points, 8.8 rebounds, 4.1 assists and 3.3 blocked shots per game. She didn’t have the opportunity to deploy all of those skills in this game but was happy she received the playing time to try out several.

Getting off the bench is no gimme for freshmen, and while Jaynes did not start, she saw 12½ minutes of action, rotating PT with another freshman.

Beginning with her first check-in 7 minutes, 37 seconds into the first quarter, Jaynes was a regular in the rotation.

“I had an idea,” Jaynes said. “It felt great the amount of playing time I got.”

It could have been more, but Jaynes fouled out in the fourth quarter. She finished with three points, going 1-for-3 from the floor. The hoop came on a flashy, lefty-handed underhand scoop down low.

“We’ve been working on it,” said Jaynes, who said since high school play ended, “I do feel like a better player.”

Playing on a bigger stage much will be demanded from her at Butler. Just competing in this milieu is a rarity. Only a tiny percentage of high school players continue in college, and only a small percentage of those are invited to go D-1.

That’s one reason Jaynes had a crowd of supporters willing to drive 50 miles north to witness her first game, making the scene feel homey. It was a landmark moment to share with family members, former Trinity teammates and others.

Mom Mary and dad Doug were on hand. Former coach Mike Lang said he brought every girl in the Trinity program, freshman, JV, varsity, 30 or more, to watch and cheer for Jaynes.

“It was a lot of pride for her teammates and coaches,” Lang said. “We wanted to get up here.”

Members from the Trinity Lutheran High School community attended Sydney Jaynes’ first game on Wednesday night at Hinkle Fieldhouse.

Submitted photo

Ordinarily, many of these basketball aficionados would be rooting for Indiana, but Jaynes enrolling at Butler switched allegiances. Not that the Hoosiers, who reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA tournament last season, weren’t a draw.

“IU (as opponent) made it better,” Lang said.

It didn’t matter if the Bulldogs played the Georgia Bulldogs, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, the UConn or Washington Huskies, Doug Jaynes would have been there for his not-so-little girl.

“My head is as big as the world with pride right now,” he said. “My heart is as big, too. We’re going to all the games.”

He did not mean he and the Mrs. would be fixtures at Butler home games, but wherever they tip off.

Mary Jaynes wondered particularly about Creighton in Omaha, Nebraska.

“I don’t know about all of them,” she said of that 685 miles.

That’s later. The now was special seeing Sydney in a Butler uniform in a college basketball game that counted.

“Oh, it was great,” Mary said. “It was super sweet to watch her play.”

After the loss and fouling out, Sydney was a bit melancholy.

“I’m excited, but it is what is,” Jaynes said. “We’ll be better.”

Butler players lingered on the court to sign posters for fans, especially the girls who look up to them. Jaynes posed for pictures with Trinity Lutheran fans, then autographed posters for many of the same players she competed with last winter.

The current Cougars treated their old pal Sydney like a celebrity, and Sydney, once the center on their team, acted the role of center of attention with a pen in her hand instead of a basketball.