Before moving to the United States and starting his sophomore year at Tam, sophomore Connor Jenkins was balling on the international hardwood in New Zealand and Japan.
Jenkins fell in love with basketball at seven years old while living in Tokyo. After spending the first 12 years of his life in Japan, he moved to New Zealand for boarding school, where he continued to improve his game. Jenkins described the boarding school atmosphere as “beat or get beaten.” Upon his arrival, he was immediately hazed.
“One night I woke up freezing to death. While I was asleep, the older boys transported me out of my bed sheets to the middle of the rugby field,” Jenkins said. Despite his peers’ bad example, Jenkins was able to keep his head down and focus on his game.
“The boarding school was generally a last resort for out of control kids, so there was a lot of alcohol, drugs, and fighting. But I kept my nose clean because I dreamed of playing basketball at a higher level,” he said.
Now at Tam, Jenkins has become a key contributor to the varsity basketball team. Senior and teammate Jack Duboff emphasized Jenkins’ offensive talent.
“On the court he’s so quick and so good at creating his own shots that it’s hard to guard him. Not only that, but he is also very good at creating for others,” Duboff said.
Varsity coach Tim Morgan spoke to the gritty aspect of Jenkins’ game. “He is a hard nosed player player that thrives on the defensive end. His aggressiveness and attack mentality on offense enables him to get to the rim to make plays for his teammates,” Morgan said.
Jenkins credits his success to his upbringing. “When I played basketball in Japan people there were [generally short] so they play a very fast game. This forced me to be quick,” he said. “New Zealand is where I learned my skills.”
Jenkins speaks highly of a mentor he met through a showcase team in New Zealand. “He would meet me at six in the morning to help me develop my skills. He did this for free and I am forever thankful for that.”
What makes Jenkins’s success even more impressive is that he’s just 15 years old.
“There are some struggles of being a sophomore on the varsity team, but I have good teammates and good coaches so I don’t feel younger than my teammates,” Jenkins said. “I struggle the most holding my composure because I’m one of the smallest players on the court, which makes finishing through contact difficult.”
Aside from basketball, Jenkins seems to have had a smooth transition into life in America.
“Connor is such a funny kid with a huge personality,” Duboff said. “He’s always laughing and he always has a smile on his face.” Coach Morgan reiterated this sentiment. “He has a great sense of humor and an outgoing personality once he feels comfortable,” Morgan said.
While he sometimes feels homesick, he has become comfortable with American life and has even gotten used what he calls the “funny accent.” Above all, Jenkins’ had had no problem getting used to Hawk basketball.
“He’s got a bright future ahead of him,” Morgan said. “I look forward to coaching him for the next two seasons.”