Where does an NBA player vacation during All-Star break if he’s not taking part in the festivities? For Charles Jenkins, nothing satisfies as much as a trip home to visit his family in Queens and catch a Hofstra basketball game. The Pride’s all-time leading scorer sat courtside Saturday afternoon at the Mack Sports Complex and agonized as Hofstra suffered its ninth loss in 10 games by a 57-50 count to Towson.
He only played his senior season under head coach Mo Cassara, but Jenkins formed a lasting bond. As much as anyone can, Jenkins knows how much Cassara has been wounded by the early-season scandal in which four Pride players – starters Jimmy Hall and Shaquille Stokes and reserves Kentrell Washington and Dallas Anglin -- were arrested, charged with theft and ultimately kicked out of school.
“I know it was very difficult because coach Mo is a big guy on character,” Jenkins said. “He cares about the image you portray on and off the court. For him to have that go down with the players, I know he definitely didn’t expect that because he knew they were great guys that come from good homes.”
Hofstra was 3-4 at the time the scandal broke and is 3-16 since then. Cassara has managed to keep his team playing hard, but it is outmanned. Saturday against Towson, he went with walk-ons Matt Grogan and Adam Savion for double-digit minutes because of the energy and lift they provided on defense.
Asked how often he speaks to Cassara, Jenkins said, “All the time. He knows things are going to get better…I think we’ve still got a lot of pieces, and the recruiting should be pretty good coming in next year. I think things are going to change around, but it’s a process.”
Some might wonder about the support Cassara is receiving, but Jenkins believes he’s not alone in the coach’s corner. “I think he has a lot of people on his side,” Jenkins said. “He’s built a good reputation around here. He’s just going through something a lot of programs go through. I know it’s hard for fans and alumni to be patient because they want us to be really successful. At the same time, schools go through it, and they overcome it.”
Now in his second season with the Golden State Warriors, Jenkins is finding that he must go through a learning process to compete in the NBA. He’s played in 46 games but is averaging only 6.3 minutes and 1.7 points with a team that has improved to rank sixth in the Western Conference despite being on a five-game losing streak.
Luckily for Jenkins, he has a productive relationship with Warriors coach Mark Jackson, a former Knick and St. John’s player from Brooklyn. “I love it,” Jenkins said. “He’s a players coach, very informal. He’s tough on me. He wants me to play well and not be so tentative. He’s the kind of coach you have in college, someone who cares about you. The NBA is more of a business, but for him, he’s definitely looking to help his players grow.”