Nearly every summer or early fall, a local kid from the state of Kentucky starts to improve his game and begins to hear chants from the followers from his area, “what about this guy for UK?” We have seen it from Josh Carrier, Chris Lofton, Ross Neltner, Stephon Pettigrew and Sheldon Mack and all have had varying degrees of success on the next level. This year, that kid is Jacob Jenkins of Manual High School in Louisville. Jenkins is a rising Senior and is a name you might remember. As a Sophomore, Jenkins’ stock began to rise thanks to some outstanding play during that season. He began being recruited heavily by Tubby Smith and looked to be on the precipice of moving quickly up the rankings nationally. Then a subpar summer and a very tough Junior year, made Jenkins drop off everyone’s radar and the big schools interested in him (except Wisconsin) all quit calling.
Now comes the last few weeks. Jenkins performed very well in the Kentucky Junior-Senior All star game against tough competition and has now played a number of strong tournaments in the summer. All of a sudden, good teams are calling again, culminating in his visit today to Louisville. So what do we make of Jenkins? He still isnt ranked, but his play is most definitely improving. So should the Cats go after him? I will admit to being baffled by Jenkins and his ability. I saw him as a Sophomore and was definitely impressed. His ability to get his own shot off and knock it down on a regular basis. But then I saw him last year….he looked like a different player and one who had not improved, but severely regressed. Many of the scouting folks I would speak with wondered how Wisconsin was still involved and what had happened to Jacob. Fast forward to just a little bit ago when I got to see Jacob again….now he looks like the Sophomore version, but better. Quicker release and footwork….a different guy….not necessarily a Top 50 guy, but a player who could contend for inclusion on the Rivals and Scout Top 150 list.
So should UK recruit Jacob? Hard to say….Jon Hood is still in the class and projects better due to his height and athleticism. However, Jenkins is still good and a Kentucky kid. His improvement is being noticed by our friends in Louisville, who are rumored to be considering offering him today. The Cats have bigger fish to fry with guys like Daniel Orton in the 2009 class, but if Jenkins takes off, you would at least like to see him in conversations with the Cats. I predict we will see some reaching out by this staff to Jenkins in the coming weeks. But either way, his stock is clearly rising and a guy who just a few months ago I had written off as off the national radar, may be playing his way back on.