Kris Jenkins, the 23 year old from Upper Marlboro, Maryland, came into Villanova back in 2013 as a pudgy 255 pound freshman. Fast forward to 2017, and Jenkins is leaving the Main Line at 235 pounds and by all accounts in the best shape of his life. The transformation to his body is only one of many memorable things that Jenkins has done in his career at Villanova.
Jenkins finished his junior season just over a year ago with arguably the biggest shot in basketball’s long and winding history. A three pointer, as time expired, to win the championship.
From there, it’s hard to go up. Before the season started the Wisdom of the Crowds predicted Kris Jenkins would average 14-16 points per game, with 54% voting for that option. However, the 8% that voted between 12-14 points per game were correct, as Big Smoove averaged 13.6 points per game.
Jenkins, having to deal with increased pressure from defenses and the pressure of hitting the biggest shot ever, shot a career low 36% from behind the arc. On the other hand, Jenkins did grab a career high 4.1 rebounds per game. Big Smoove also struggled from inside the arc, hitting on only 42.7% of his two’s, but he did convert on a career best 86.2% of his three throws.
Despite some of the struggles, Jenkins was named as a Big East Honorable Mention. Jenkins was also part of the winningest class in Villanova basketball history, racking up an absurd record of 129-17.
Did Kris Jenkins meet or exceed expectations in 2016-17?
This is really tough to say. Disregarding ‘The Shot’, Jenkins absolutely torched opponents for the second half of his junior season. Over the last 19 games, he averaged 17 points while being scorching hot from behind the arc. Many excepted Jenkins to carry over from last year, but there was increased pressure due to the shot, and being higher on the opposition's scouting report because of the increased responsibility that comes with being a senior under Jay Wright.
He didn’t start 2016-17 as hot as he ended 2015-16, but he did average a solid 14 points through the first half of the season. However, something happened during the last half of the year, as Jenkins scoring dropped to just over 11 points per game.
For the majority of the 2nd half, Jenkins made two or less a games. During some of those games you saw Villanova jump out to a big lead before just holding on, or losing. (vs. Butler, vs. DePaul, vs. Georgetown, @ Providence). However, when Jenkins shot well the game wasn’t even close (5-13 vs. SJU in BET, 5-6 @SHU, 4-7 @X, 4-6 vs. SHU).
With the increased pressure that came with being the guy who won the national championship, I think it’s fair to say Jenkins met exceptions.
Jenkins is expected to graduate next month and will likely participate in pre-draft workouts, with hopes of being selected in June’s NBA draft, or ending up with a team in the Summer League.