Hofstra’s Jenkins joins elite group

Charles Jenkins never thought he would be joining such an
exclusive club, although he did steal a peek two years ago.

The senior guard from Hofstra won the Haggerty Award, given to
the outstanding college basketball player in the New York
metropolitan area, for the third straight year Tuesday. The others
to do that are Jim McMillian of Columbia from 1968-70 and Chris
Mullin of St. John’s from 1983-85.

”The first time I won the award one of the things I did was to
look at the list of winners to see who won before me and I saw the
names of the three-time winners and I didn’t think of doing that,”
the 6-foot-3 Jenkins said. ”Instead I looked at it as a reason to
grow. It’s been tremendous.”

That’s a good word to describe Jenkins.

His stats have improved every season and the 78th annual
Haggerty Award isn’t the only hardware he has taken to his Queens,
N.Y., home. He was the Colonial Athletic Association’s player of
the year the last two seasons and he was tabbed for several
All-America teams last month.

The accolades keep coming like his clutch shooting and uncanny
passing.

”The thing about Charles is he has always had a regal way about
him, an air of greatness and he worked really hard to become a
great player,” said Fordham coach Tom Pecora, who recruited
Jenkins to Hofstra and coached him there for his first three
seasons and two Haggerty Awards. ”His is really worthy of this and
I’m confident he will go on to the next level and have a
professional career like the two previous three-time winners.
That’s good company to keep.”

The numbers are there to back up the honors that just keep
coming Jenkins’ way.

He was sixth in the nation in scoring at 22.6 points per game,
his highest average for one season. He led the CAA in scoring and
assists at 4.7. he finished as Hofstra’s all-time leading scorer
with 2,513 points, making him the 63rd college player to reach the
2,500 mark.

But it’s always been about the team for Jenkins, who graduated
from Hofstra after his junior year and took classes toward a
Master’s degree this season.

The thoughts of a smooth senior year were quickly knocked from
Jenkins’ mind.

Pecora moved on to Fordham. Tim Welsh was hired at Hofstra but
resigned a month later after being arrested and charged with DUI.
Mo Cassara, who had no head coaching experience at the Division I
level, was given the job. He was lucky to have Jenkins.

”On so many levels it was a magical year and Charles did
everything,” Cassara said of the 21-12 season. ”He took a young,
inexperienced group and put them on his back. He was not just a
great player and representative of the university but he was a
great friend of mine. We grew very, very close. It really was just
magical.”

Jenkins said he didn’t have time to think about winning a third
Haggerty Award.

”With everything that happened at Hofstra this year I had a lot
more to worry about with what was going on here,” he said. ”I had
to get used to a new coach, new teammates. There was a lot to deal
with.”

Cassara said Jenkins wasn’t the only one who forgot about the
Haggerty.

”We all did. At one point all of a sudden it was ‘What about
the Haggerty?”’ Cassara said of the award presented and voted on
by the Metropolitan Basketball Writers Association. ”It’s a real
credit to him that he stayed focused on what was best for the team.
It all shows what he is about. He really is a team-first guy and
that speaks volumes about him.”

Even though many told him that Jenkins could have benefited by
playing at a bigger school or in a more visible conference, he
wouldn’t hear of that kind of talk.

”I have always said I have never regretted going to Hofstra.
Family matters a lot. I have never regretted not going to a bigger
conference,” he said. ”The coaches who recruited me never lied to
me. They told me the gym would always be open if I wanted to become
the best player I could. I have to thank Coach Pecora and Coach
(David) Duke for believing in me when I didn’t have an offer yet
from a Division I school.”