Jenkins started the season with plenty of doubters questioning if he was ready to step into a starting role. He ended the season with the most iconic shot in Villanova history. In between he developed as a team leader on and off the court, and was the team's leading scorer down the home stretch averaging 18.4 points in the final 15 games. I think it's safe to say it was a great year for Jenkins.
What We Expected
When the season started, there were mixed emotions about Jenkins. He had a solid sophomore season coming off the bench as a 3-point specialist, but was still a bit overweight. Over the summer he had shed a lot of weight, but would now be undersized as he stepped into a starting spot as a forward at the 4 position. There were a lot of questions on how he'd be able to handle defending the position and if he'd be able to provide the type of offense from the four that we were losing with JVP graduating. There were reasons to be optimistic, as well as doubtful, but Jenkins showed early on that he was ready to step up.
Vote From Wisdom Of The Crowds
Nova Nation wasn't quite ready to get behind Jenkins offensively to start the season, projecting him to score 8.6 PPG this season. Despite being a starter, that would put him 6th in projections for the team behind Phil Booth. This was up from the previous year's 6.3PPG, but the junior clearly wasn't given enough credit for his offensive game. While Jenkins stayed close to these early projections with 10.1 PPG in the non-conference stretch, he really came into his own in Big East and post season play.
The Crowds shorted on their projection for Jenkins by 5 PPG. Jenkins took the most 3's on the team by far (second was Ryan Arcidiacono with 193) but he connected on over 38% of them, including the Championship buzzer beater that gave him an even 100 on the season. He also finished the season as the team's second best free throw shooter at 84.5%, only behind Phil Booth's 87.7%.
The best moment of the season is Jenkin's buzzer beater to win the National Championship. But his best game of the year came in his final performance at the pavilion this season against DePaul. Jenkins caught fire from deep, hitting 8 of 14 threes and shooting over 61% from the floor. He scored a career high 31 points and threw in 2 rebounds, 2 steals, and an assist to round out his night. It may not have been the most impressive opponent, but this was the game that convinced even his biggest doubters that Jenkins was a leader on this team both in the locker room and on the court. It was the 5th game in a row that Jenkins had scored double digits, averaging 21.4 PPG in that stretch. He would go on to score double digits in each of the remaining 10 games of the season.
Jenkins didn't have many bad games, especially not late in the season. But he did seem to disappear in late December when the team hosted Penn in a Big 5 game. In 19 minutes, Jenkins had just 2 points, going 1 of 3 from the floor and 0 for 2 from behind the arc. With his only other contributions being 3 defensive rebounds, a turnover, and a foul, he posted his lowest offensive rating of the season at a 51. To put that into perspective, he averaged a rating of 137 through the NCAA Tournament.
This was possibly the biggest breakout season any Villanova player has ever had. Jenkins was easily the team's most improved player, and consistently made contributions on both ends of the court. Even when he was on the bench with foul trouble, he was constantly rooting on his teammates with more passion and intensity than anyone else on the floor. While the Seniors were the clear leaders on this team, Jenkins stepped up as someone that could lead by example and epitomize what Villanova basketball is all about.
Jenkins will take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about the NBA process this spring, but has confirmed that he'll be coming back to Villanova next season. He will be the vocal leader of this team, and probably it's most recognized player after hitting one of the NCAA's most iconic shots of all time. Look for Jenkins and the rest of the soon to be senior class to be a prominent part of Villanova's attempt to defend their National Championship next season.