La Jolla Country Day School, looking for a new boys basketball coach, got more than 80 applicants from across the country.
The Torreys found their man in their backyard, naming former San Diego State University standout DJ Gay on May 15 to replace Ryan Meier, who had resigned after 14 seasons.
“We had a ton of applicants, guys from all over, guys with really good credentials, I mean really good credentials,” said LJCD Athletic Director Jeff Hutzler. “The final four candidates were pretty darn good.
“We did a good deep search, involved our entire school and got the best person.”
After playing 140 games for San Diego State from 2007 to 2011, Gay played professionally in Europe before being named head basketball coach at Victory Christian Academy in Chula Vista.
In three seasons he led the Knights to a 46-35 record, including 18-10 in 2018-19. The Knights were 13-16 last season but won three Citrus League championships under Gay, going 29-1 in league play.
“As a player, I never wanted to be a high school coach, it was never a passion,” Gay said. “Over the last six years, though, I’ve coached club ball, and coaching kids has grown into a passion.
“And La Jolla Country Day is a dream job.”
The private school plays in the tough Coastal League, which includes Foothills Christian (20-10 last season), Francis Parker (22-6), Santa Fe Christian (23-10), Army-Navy (17-12), Orange Glen (16-15) and Bishop’s (11-18). LJCD was 12-17 last season.
“The Coastal League is no joke,” Gay said. “Chad Bickley at Santa Fe Christian is one of the best coaches around. Brad Leaf at Foothills is great. Brad Levine at Bishop’s and the rest of the guys can really coach.
“That league has always been the big dog. Now I get to stand next to those guys and test myself as a coach.
“I’ll always be grateful to Victory Christian for giving me my first chance. Those people are family. They allowed my passion to grow.”
The coach Gay is replacing, Meier, left after posting a 226-186 record at the school.
Meier’s teams won a pair of San Diego Section championships. The 2018-19 team, led by Ryan Langborg, captured the State Division III championship.
The Torreys went to five Southern California Regionals under Meier and won at least 20 games five times, including 28-6 in 2015-16.
“Ryan Meier did a great job here but was looking for a new challenge,” Hutzler said. “We think DJ can not only maintain our level but elevate us.”
Gay was captain of the Aztecs in his senior season, leading SDSU to the NCAA Tournament Sweet 16, and he was named first-team all-conference.
He played his high school ball at L.A. Poly in Sun Valley.
In addition to coaching basketball, Gay will be a full-time physical education teacher at LJCD.