New Basketball Coach Jerome Jenkins Hopes to Lead Corsairs to Victory
By Joshua White
Corsair Staff Writer
After a summer full of uncertainty, Santa Monica College has a new head coach for its men's basketball team. SMC officially announced the hiring of Jerome Jenkins, a Los Angeles native, who joins the Corsairs after spending nine seasons at Sacramento State University where he served one season as an assistant coach and compiled an 80-147 record in his eight seasons as head coach.
Beginning in Jenkins' fifth year at Sacramento, he led the Hornets to four straight Big Sky Tournament appearances, including the program's first postseason appearance since joining the conference six seasons earlier. Jenkins was chosen by the SMC committee out of a possible 60 candidates and three finalists.
Jenkins returns to coach in the same city that he grew up in and developed his love for the game of basketball. He began his basketball career at Fairfax High School where he helped lead the Lions to the City Championship in 1985. Jenkins played college basketball at nearby Los Angeles City College and later Southwestern Oregon Community College, before finishing as a two-time All-Conference player at Regis University in Denver, Colo. where he earned his bachelor's degree in criminal justice.
Jenkins' coaching career began as an assistant at Eastern Washington University, where he spent two years before moving to Diablo Valley Community College in the Bay Area assisting the program win three league titles in four years.
Jenkins then left Diablo Valley to become an assistant coach at Sacramento State University before taking over the position of head coach a year later. He eventually became the third-longest tenured men's basketball coach in the history of the 60-year program before departing after the 2007-08 season.
Jenkins left Sacramento State as the most successful men's basketball coach the school has had since the program joined Division I in 1991.
Coach Jenkins comes to SMC and fills the position that he describes as "one of the best jobs in the state." Jenkins said there was "no question" that his decision to accept the position at SMC was partially attributed to his Los Angeles upbringing as well as "the opportunity to coach in front of family and friends." He also recalled "admiring Santa Monica College from afar" especially during his time at LACC.
Jenkins takes over a Corsair team that won 17 games last season and made its first playoff appearance in five years while playing under Coach Jesse Teplitzky, who left the program after just one season to coach at Cerritos College.
He describes the current team as "strong" and "not lacking anything" to be a successful program and hopes to use his experience and style of play to help the Corsairs build on the progress made last season.
The style of play that Jenkins plans to implement at SMC is the same fast up-tempo style that he made popular at Sacramento State.
This style of play puts a substantial amount of defensive pressure on the opposing team resulting in a lot of fast breaks and forced turnovers. "Anyone that knows me knows that I like to run, play fast and force turnovers," said Jenkins, whose Sacramento State team led the Big Sky Conference in forced turnovers last season, a direct result of his preferred style of play.
His early expectations for his team is to "play hard" while he hopes to "lay the foundation for the future" and at the same time "get the players to the next level."
He also describes his players as "student athletes first" and stresses the importance in education as he says he expects them to "always go to class." Jenkins' Sacramento State squad averaged a 2.54 GPA including three students over a 3.00 according toSacBee.com.
"The most important thing for my players is to graduate and to conduct themselves like men," said Jenkins. "They will always be held accountable for their actions."
And with Jenkins being held accountable for the team, they are sure to be headed in the right direction both on and off the court.