David Jenkins has not had a flawless season at UNLV. He has been taken out of the starting lineup and called out for a lack of leadership.
And his future with UNLV is in question. But Jenkins hasn’t started looking into next season just yet.
“I’m just living in the moment with my teammates,” Jenkins told the Las Vegas Sun. “I haven’t thought about that. I’m trying to stay present. I love being here at UNLV. It’s been a blessing being here.”
Despite how underwhelming this season has been, UNLV needs David Jenkins back next season. He is still the team’s second leading scorer at 14.7 points per game and is shooting over 40 percent from three.
His defense is never going to be at an all-conference level. And in his inability to beat defenders off the dribble limits his offensive ceiling. But Jenkins’ shooting is a skillset any team hoping to make a run to the NCAA Tournament would want.
The key is to change Jenkins’ role. Instead of being the second best offensive option, UNLV needs to push Jenkins down the pecking order.
T.J. Otzelberger needs offensive playmakers, guys that can get to the rim. Just 28.5 percent of UNLV’s shots have been at the rim this season, 330th best in the country.
Bryce Hamilton can create his own shot – and he has become a better passer this season – but he doesn’t get to the rim. Just 23.5 percent of his shots are layups or dunks. Last season when UNLV has Amauri Hardy and Elijah Mitrou-Long as playmakers, Hamilton got 34.7 prcent of his shots at the rim.
Simply adding another ball handler that can beat defenders off the dribble or off pick and rolls can help Hamilton take more efficient shots.
And if UNLV has at least two guys that can create efficient shots, David Jenkins can flourish. When Jenkins had his best season back in 2018-19, South Dakota State had Mike Daum as the leading scorer and number one option. Otzleberger also had Sklyer Flatten and Tevin King as offensive threats. Jenkins averaged 19.9 points per game and drilled 46.3 percent of his threes.
That is the ideal role for Jenkins. Let him be a shooter around playmakers.
If UNLV can keep Bryce Hamilton for next year and add an impact transfer point guard (which might be very difficult to find), Jenkins’ role as a shooter can become critical to making a run to the post season.