In an offseason where Purdue sought a major player to take over the point guard position and notably missed on Nijel Pack (Miami) and Tyrese Hunter (Texas), Purdue continued the search and was able to land David Jenkins, Jr. The well traveled guard had started his career with South Dakota State but transferred out after two seasons to UNLV, where after sitting out one season and playing another, followed a coach to Utah. Inevitably, Jenkins found his way to Purdue as a graduate transfer with the hopes of starting for a Purdue team that seemed to have a desperate need at the point guard position.
Jenkins came to Purdue as a noted scorer having entered the season having scored a total of 1,857 total points in his career and shooting 40.8% from three while being a steady force on the court for leadership. However, Head Coach Matt Painter knew what he had in freshman Braden Smith and thusly needed to find a guard who would be ok with possibly playing off the bench in a secondary role. Jenkins, being well traveled and wanting a return to the NCAA Tourney, took that role seriously and may have helped the program for years after his only season with Purdue ended.
There were multiple highs this season for Jenkins, many of which consisted of him beating the shot clock as it dwindled down or hitting buzzer beater threes at the end of the first half. Jenkins, in those spots, seemed to take an aura of confidence from just playing ball and became the sought after player in those situations for the Boilers.
Apparently, he hates halftime clocks too... pic.twitter.com/ImRWNARLk0— Purdue Men's Basketball (@BoilerBall) March 11, 2023
We all know Jenkins probably entered into his time at Purdue thinking he had a very good chance of starting for a program that was underrated given what they had in the front court. Instead, he took a backseat to one of the better freshman point guards Purdue (and the B1G) has seen in the last fifteen to twenty seasons. Jenkins, though, did not hide behind false smiles that can easily be seen through. Instead, he took on a role of mentor to Purdue’s freshman duo of guards, oftentimes being seen coaching them up on the sidelines during breaks in play. Jenkins would have his moments to shine throughout the long season but his leadership and mentoring those young guards will make the program better for the foreseeable future.
We don’t always see the things that truly builds the culture of a program to be successful, especially the success that Purdue has enjoyed for the better part of a decade. Yes, tournament losses in March suck and Purdue has definitely had to embrace the suck more than others over that same time frame, but programs like Purdue’s continue to improve and maintain that success because of guys like Jenkins. DJ didn’t complain and he certainly didn’t look to undermine chemistry and success for his own selfish gains, rather he did the mature thing that is so often overlooked in society today. He put his head down, worked harder, and passed on the knowledge he had built in his travels to better the program he has been a part of for less than a year.
Purdue has often taken these transfers and held on to them with high regard. Players like Spike Albrecht, Jahaad Procter, Evan Boudreaux, and Johnny Hill were similar to Jenkins in that they didn’t get to play the role that they believed they could have but helped continue Purdue along the trajectory that we see. Jenkins is different though in how vocal he was about his mentorship and how evident it was to everyone, media member or fan, the effect he was having on the culture at Purdue. In a post game interview, Jenkins said the following in the video from Kelly Hallinan:
David Jenkins Jr. on supporting the freshmen and sending Braden Smith a long text message:— Kelly Hallinan (@kellyhals) January 30, 2023
(Longer clip edition) pic.twitter.com/P7vqqebCCN
With Purdue’s loss to FDU in the first round of the NCAA Tourney, Jenkins was left just 11 points shy of hitting a career mark of 2,000 points. An absolutely brutal way to end a career with arguably one of the most brutal losses in NCAA history, especially for a player so well liked and appreciated like David Jenkins, Jr. is. Jenkins should become a coach and if he does I would hope he finds his way back to Purdue one day in some capacity because people like David Jenkins aren’t an everyday occurrence in a business as cutthroat as D1 basketball.
As explained above, Jenkins became known for his late clock heroics for the Boilers but likely the best memory for Boiler fans will be his three game run in the B1G Tourney where he began to really fall into his role off the bench and hit 8/12 from behind the arc. David scored 29 total points in those three games with a season high of 12 against Rutgers when Purdue struggled against the Scarlett Knights pressure defense.