There’s nothing more rewarding than being in the gym when the “light goes on” for a kid. Last weekend, during our ESPNU broadcast of Gonzaga vs. Whitney Young, Kris Jenkins (Washington, D.C./Gonzaga), a 2013 power forward, had what amounted to a breakout game on national television. It was awesome.
Jenkins, while tasked with providing resistance against elite center Jahlil Okafor (Chicago/Whitney Young) and giving up five inches to the sophomore, scored 21 points. He found perfection in terms of his balance between post and perimeter play. On the air we made a point of addressing his performance and challenged him to do it again. One game is nice, but once the bar is raised, in order to win over observers, there’s only one way to do it: replicate the effort.
On Tuesday night, against St. Mary’s Ryken, Jenkins did just that. He went for 34 points in the win.
“He could have gone for 50 last night,” Gonzaga coach Steve Turner said. “The great thing was he and [teammate] Nate Britt were in the gym at 6 a.m. shooting this morning."
Since Saturday’s game, everyone on of his college suitors has checked in and plenty of others, including Clemson. Behind the scenes, Xavier, Penn State and George Washington are also major players for Jenkins.
Jenkins is 6-6, which means he’s a tweener at the highest level. It doesn’t mean he can’t play at the highest level; it’s just that he’ll have to prove it each time out. It also means that the best bet for him may be finding a place where he either doesn’t have to face 6-10 guys each night or settling in with a program that has developed a player like him before.
When it's all said and done, Jenkins will ultimately be judged by his effectiveness, intensity, determination and the results he produces on the floor. There are guys with upside, guys who have room to grow to reach their ceilings and then there are guys who simply lace them up and get it done. Jenkins samples from the first two examples but his bread is buttered by being a producer.