Villanova's pursuit of Jenkins pays off

They never waivered. The Villanova Wildcats watched No. 70 Kris Jenkins (Washington, D.C./Gonzaga) last spring, saw him erupt over the winter and then sustain a summer-ending injury in June. Through it all, Jay Wright and his staff were locked on the power forward from one of Washington D.C.’s top basketball powerhouses.

When it was time to decide, Jenkins heard Wright loud and clear. The combo-forward was indeed Villanova’s type of guy and he knew it.

“I think it started last spring when they started recruiting me extremely hard,” Jenkins said. “They kept telling me that ‘you’re our guy and we want you at Villanova.’ It started to hit home as they kept recruiting me.”

On Aug. 19 during an unofficial visit to Villanova, Jenkins sprung the news on the Villanova staff. He was ready to pledge and get rolling for the Wildcats. Amazingly, he sat on the news an entire week before making it public. In the age of Twitter and social media, that’s no small feat.

“It’s summertime and people are at school so I stayed in as much as I could,” Jenkins said. “I waited to just make sure. I was going to do it on the first day of school and this radio show called and I told them. Now I feel so relieved.”

Gonzaga College coach Steve Turner said current Villanova assistant coach Keith Urgo began recruiting Jenkins when he was at Penn State. In the interim, Billy Lange came onto the Villanova staff and picked up the pursuit. According to Turner, assistant Jason Donnelly weighed in and Urgo eventually moved to Villanova’s staff. The pursuit came full circle. “Villanova made it clear that Kris was their guy,” Turner said.

Jenkins is a big forward with a number of attributes that fit Villanova’s style. He’s a big-game player. On our air last January, Jenkins turned in his national breakout performance when Gonzaga College beat Whitney Young and he pumped in 28 points. His play continued into the spring before a thumb injury at the NBPA Top 100 Camp shut him down. Jenkins is a natural scoring threat. He’s improved his range beyond the arc and is at his best when he’s making things happen in the lane. The kid loves to play hoops.

Villanova was in need of good news and received more over the weekend when the Harrison twins told Paul Biancardi at the Elite 24 that they would be making an official visit to the Wildcats. Before the Harrisons drop by, Jenkins is all set to help Villanova with its next target: Josh Hart (Washington, D.C./Sidwell Friends).

Hart’s official visit to Villanova begins on Tuesday. “I’m trying my hardest to get Josh Hart. I’m constantly telling him to go up there. After Josh Hart, I haven’t gotten there. I’m just trying to make sure we get him first.”

In the past, Villanova tried reaching for the stars and bringing in guys with the highest possible ratings. A few of their bigger name “stars” didn’t pan out and Wright’s staff went back to the basics this season. For the Wildcats, it’s been about the evaluation. The evaluation of the person and the player; a complete and holistic look into their targets. It’s why when Jenkins went through struggles and then got hurt, the Wildcats never wavered. Wright and his staff recruited Jenkins for the long haul and their diligence was rewarded.