Donjaé Lindsey is getting a taste of what life can be for him at this point next year.
In his third day living in Southern California, Lindsey caught up with The Bulletin in a phone interview on Thursday. Earlier this week, it was revealed over social media that Weston Ranch's senior star point guard has joined coach Julius von Hanzlik and Southern California Academy's national prep school basketball team.
Lindsey left his family and friends behind for the next two months, which will be spent training with and competing for the Rams in Grind Session events taking place in Arizona until the first week of March.
If California Interscholastic Federation schools are given the go-ahead to play basketball games in the spring, Lindsey is allowed to come back home and play for Weston Ranch, as long as Southern California Academy isn't competing against squads from more traditional high schools. Lindsey, a key contributor at The Ranch since his freshman year, remains hopeful to get that chance to play alongside fellow senior Mi'Son Coilton and the rest of the Cougars for one last season.
Lindsey had a chance to join SCA at the start of the school year but opted to stay home and finish out his prep career with then-Weston Ranch coach Chris Teevan.
“I assumed we were still going to have a season,” Lindsey said. “Then everything started going downhill with Teevan (resigning) and COVID cases going up. Now, we're not sure if there's going to be a season, so I decided to come here and play. It's a better experience for exposure, and it's just getting me ready for the college level.”
If he has played his last game for Weston Ranch, Lindsey at least goes out with fond memories. He was the Cougars' leading scorer last year at 17 points per game and helped them win their first-ever CIF NorCal Regional Championships title in Division II. In his sophomore year, the Ranch went 31-2 and was one of just eight NorCal teams invited to the CIF Open Division playoffs.
Lindsey's stock is soaring of late.
He opened eyes in late October as a member of the Weston Ranch Jr. Cougars Basketball Club, which went 4-0 and claimed the California Division champion in the Border League tournament in Arizona. The Cougars went 4-0, and Lindsey averaged 24.2 points and seven rebounds while manning the point guard position. Lindsey proved to be more than a volume-scoring off guard.
“That tournament was when I transitioned to point guard,” he said. “It was a chance for me to work on my game passing-wise while still being able to score. The competition was a bit more challenging but nothing I couldn't handle. It was fun and I was proud of myself.”
Lindsey credits Weston Ranch coaches for his development. Teevan was an ideal mentor, considering he was a college-level point guard. Eddie Menzel, currently interim head coach, has served as Teevan's defensive coordinator and top assistant the past seven years.
“They helped me a lot, actually,” Lindsey said. “They've been on me like crazy for my defense since coming in as a freshman — I wasn't very good. Coach Eddie helped me develop a passion for defense, and Coach Teevan helped me with my all-around game.”
Menzel, announced as Weston Ranch's interim coach on Thursday, is rooting for Lindsey from afar. Lindsey said more and more NCAA Division I coaches are expressing interest in him.
“I feel like Donjaé is one of the most slept on players in Northern California,” Menzel said. “He is one of those can't-miss type of players. He takes care of business on the court and in the classroom and he's a great person. He'll never be an issue and you don't have to worry about him.
“I'm excited for him going to the prep school and wish him the best. I think it's a great move for him. He's going to prove himself and get what he wants out of the situation.”