David Jenkins came to Purdue with the intention of winning. As he is finding his role, Jenkins and Purdue are doing just that.
David Jenkins is a 6th year senior on his 4th college team. He’s made stops at South Dakota State, UNLV, and Utah where he was a prolific scorer at all of them. I mean his sophomore year at South Dakota State he went 112/245 from 3 on the year which was 45.7%. He had the 30th best shooting percentage in the country, and he made more 3s than almost everyone else.
Jenkins is 97th all time in career threes made in college basketball, and he is 7th out of all active players. As of writing he is 69 points shy of 2000 for his career. All this to say, Jenkins has been that guy every where he has went, and he has always been a bucket.
Yet with all of that, Jenkins found himself in a new role at Purdue. He wasn’t starting. He actually has backed up a true freshman. The shots have decreased. His sophomore year at South Dakota State he averaged 14 shots per game, but now he is only averaging 3.3. The shot also has not been falling. He started the season 9/38 from 3, although he did have a couple important moments throughout that stretch.
One thing you never heard Jenkins do is complain. On an interview at Braggs in the Stands, which you can find here, Jenkins said how he expected to be the starting point guard when deciding to transfer to Purdue. As a 6th year senior, he easily could have been pouty or a bad teammate when finding out freshman Braden Smith was going to be the starting point guard. But he just never has. Every interview and interaction we’ve seen of him has been of him doing nothing but uplifting everyone.
And that was even while he was struggling, getting anywhere from 10-18 minutes a game depending on the matchup. Now over the month of January, Jenkins is really starting to get into his role. He had a 9 point performance against Ohio State in which he went 3/3 from 3, all of them coming at critical moments.
Over the past 5 games (writing before the Penn State game on February 1st), Jenkins played 20, 17, 12, 19, and 19 minutes in those games. Over the past 3 he is 6/8 from 3, and he does it in a way that Purdue does not really have.
There have been two things that have really allowed Jenkins to start playing more. At 6’1, 200 pounds, Jenkins has a little more size to be able to bump with the physicality of Big Ten play. Coach Painter has called on his defense more, and Jenkins has totally bought in.
Then there is the actual lineup construction. Jenkins has been more of a 2 guard in college, meaning he is more of a scorer than point guard. He expected to play point guard at Purdue, but he has started to really thrive again when paired with Braden Smith.
Per CBBAnalytics, Purdue has a net rating of 29.2 when both Jenkins and Smith are on the floor, aka when Jenkins is playing the 2. (Net Rating is how many more points per 100 possessions that are scored or not. So in this case, Purdue outscores opponents by 29.2 points per 100 possessions when both Jenkins and Smith are on the floor.) That 29.2 is a very good number. When it is only Jenkins on the floor and he is running point guard, Purdue has a net rating of 2.8. They are still outscoring opponents when Jenkins is point, but it is by way less.
Now there definitely are other things that can affect why these numbers are the way they are such as Jenkins often plays with the bench where Smith plays with the starters. But the main point is that it seems Jenkins has become very comfortable coming off the bench and scoring alongside Smith for periods of time. And when Jenkins does need to run point guard, he is ready for that too.
Jenkins getting back to playing more of that 2 guard has really allowed him to get some more shots up and to fall. He has been a volume shooter his entire career, so it is difficult to find rhythm on few shots when you are used to being able to get a lot up.
One area Jenkins has really excelled on offense is late shot clock situations. Per Synergy Sports, Jenkins has had 95 possessions this season. A possession is when a player shoots, gets free throws, or turns it over. 20 of Jenkins’ possessions have come with under 4 second on the shot clock which is 22.5% of their shots. There are only 7 players in the country who have a higher percentage of their possessions coming with under 4 seconds or less on the shot clock. He is averaging 1.05 points per possession on those, which is in the 83rd percentile.
Above is an example of Jenkins getting to work late in the shot clock. He doesn’t need a ton of space or dribbles to get his shot up, and he is more than comfortable shooting off the dribble. These shots are not the focal point of Purdue’s offense by any means, but there usually comes a time in March when a team needs a guard to be able to just hit tough shots for a few minutes. Jenkins is that.
And once one falls, the confidence only increases for Jenkins. He knows he can hit tough shots, but he knows that he also brings defensive intensity to Purdue which means he won’t get taken out just for missing a shot.
So where does the shooting stand? He is currently 15/46 from 3 (32.6%). When digging deeper, he has been very good on pull ups but struggling on catch and shoot attempts. He is averaging 1.0 points per possession on pull ups, which is in the 80th percentile. The catch and shoot numbers have not been great, but they have really started to improve as he has become more comfortable.
This is another tough shot that Jenkins can hit without a doubt. A step back two coming off a screen. No, it is not the “best” shot in the world. But for someone who has needed to find rhythm, it is one I think Purdue is fine with. Plus then you take into account that he has been good on pull ups and it really isn’t a bad shot anymore. It’s one from an elite shooter who has the confidence.
At the end of the day, there is no denying that Braden Smith is the point guard of this team. Jenkins won’t either, and he has maybe been the most supportive guy of Smith on the team Encouraging, helping mentor, and now dominating on the court when they share it together.
When Jenkins came to Purdue, he said he wanted to win. Flat out, he wanted to win at a high level. He could’ve let the fact a freshman was starting over him to discourage him, cause him to quit on the team, or just not buy in. But Jenkins is not like that. He is a winner and the ultimate teammate. He truly does not seem to care whether he gets 5 or 25 minutes as long as the team wins. Now that it is getting later into the season, that attitude is paying off as he is starting to really find his groove.
Yes, Jenkins will only be at Purdue for one season before he hopefully plays professionally or eventually gets into the basketball analyst role that he hopes to (and would be really good at). Yes, Jenkins maybe has not had things go exactly as he planned, but it has not affected who he is as a teammate. He works hard, supports the team, and wants to win. He has only been in the program for about 7 months, but David Jenkins has the feel that he has been a Boilermaker for life.