Villanova player's winning shot is no surprise to his high school coach

IMAGE: CNS photo/Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports via Reuters

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) — When Kris Jenkins got the ball with the score tied in the final seconds
of the NCAA men’s basketball championship game April 4, his former high school coach had no
doubt that the Villanova junior would make the shot.

The three-point, buzzer-beater by Jenkins clinched the game for the
Wildcats and was essentially “the same shot from the same spot” he had
made countless times before, said Steve Turner, head basketball coach for
Gonzaga College High School in Washington, where Jenkins played forward and was
the team captain.

The coach,
watching Villanova play North Carolina on television with his wife
and friends, couldn’t have been happier for his former player when his jump shot gave the Wildcats a 77-74 victory just as the clock ran out.

And one day after
the big game, when he and Jenkins were both on the media circuit talking
basketball, he couldn’t wait to talk to him and congratulate him personally.

Jenkins, a 2013
graduate of the Jesuit high school, who played all four years, calls Turner whenever
he is in town. The two talked after recent NCAA tournament games.

The enthusiasm
from the previous night’s game at NRG Stadium in Houston before an
announced crowd of 74,340 was going strong the next morning at Gonzaga. There
was “such a feeling of joy” and everyone was “excited for Kris
on the big stage,” Turner told Catholic News Service April 5. “We’re one big proud
community and one big proud family,” he added.

The school’s
website immediately posted a video clip of the game’s final seconds.

Turner said what
made Jenkins such a good player in high school, where he won Gatorade District of Columbia player of the year two years in a row, was “his ability to work so hard and
continue to be a leader,” not just in scoring “but leading by example
and being a true student-athlete working hard in the classroom and on the

Another sidelight
to the NCAA championship game was that Jenkins was playing against his brother
on the opposing team — Tar Heels guard Nate Britt. The Britt family, who met
Jenkins through basketball, adopted Jenkins in 2007 when Jenkins’ mother,
Felicia, had a job offer coaching basketball in South Carolina and thought her son
would do better academically, and could continue playing basketball, with the Britts.

On “Good
Morning America” just hours after his winning shot was viral news, Jenkins credited
his mom for teaching him how to shoot.

“She started
with me when I was young and she even coaches me on my shots still to this
day,” he said, adding she was “shocked” he was left open to make
the winning shot.

“We were both
stunned,” he added.

Villanova’s win was its second men’s national title. The previous time the school won the national title was in 1985
when it beat Georgetown University. That also was the last time a Catholic college or
university won the men’s national basketball championship.

In celebration,
the school was closed April 4 and a parade for the team is scheduled to take
place in Philadelphia April 8.

– – –

Follow Zimmermann on Twitter: @carolmaczim.

– – –

Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Original Article