Welcome to Interview #31.
I am pleased to share with you the wisdom of ACCA Kansas Christian College Men’s Basketball Coach, Jay Jenkins.
Known for getting his players to believe in themselves, Coach Jenkins instills in his players a desire to succeed and leads them to go beyond expectations. Also emphasizing Christian character, “Coach J” has earned a reputation among his former players for truly caring about them beyond the game of basketball.
Kansas Christian College has not had a team since 2005. It is very exciting that KCC men’s basketball is coming back for the 2016-2017 season.
How do you find players for a team that does not play their first game until November of 2016?
There are at least 500,000 student-athletes who participated in high school basketball, graduated in 2015 and are possibly working a 9 to 5 or sitting at their parents’ home playing NBA2K15. Now the current school year, 2015-16 has another 500,000 student-athletes who are currently participating in high school basketball.
They do not have a clue as to where they will attend college, but they want to play college basketball. Now, I never was a math teacher, but I believe about 4% of high school student-athletes actually get a chance to participate in collegiate basketball.
The cost of gaining an education at our college is probably among the least expensive in the nation. In addition to financial aid, KCC does offer academic grants to students as well. This is one of the main reasons why I push high school students to have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA.
My experience has led me to believe that there are many kids and young adults who are eager to participate in college basketball. There are individuals waiting on me to find them and give them an opportunity.
Therefore, my first avenue is to connect with the high school coaches I know to seek any possible players who have slipped through the cracks. When I speak of slipping through the cracks, I mean those student-athletes who weren’t tall enough, did not have NCAA grades, etc. I will contact AAU coaches to seek for undiscovered talent as well.
The biggest factor for me is character. I heard a wise man once say, “I refuse to lose.” That is the motto that I live by.
What would you tell prospective athletes are the benefits and challenges which await them at a first year program?
One benefit for the program is we will make history by becoming the first team since our school’s previous era of athletics, which ended in 2005, and we can now set the tone for a winning program.
With a first-year program there are many teams that will underestimate our team, but with our hard work and dedication to be the best that God has called us to be, we will win as a team. Whether we win or lose, we will give glory to God. That, to me, is a successful day. That is winning.
What are you looking for in a men’s basketball player as you are on the recruiting trail? What is most important to you?
Christian college coaches place the spiritual development of their student-athletes ahead of everything else. Character…Most importantly I want to have guys I can trust.
My coaching philosophy is to recruit Christian student-athletes in order to compete on a national level. Therefore, academics are a priority. I want my student athletes to strive for academic excellence (Colossians 3:23).
I understand the importance of winning from God’s perspective. To be a servant-leader, sometimes we need to keep in mind we are servants first and leaders second. We must learn to model Christ-like servanthood in every situation.
Kansas Christian College is a Christian school. Will all religious schools be similar? What are differences that recruits should think about when choosing a religious school?
All Christian schools will not be the same. Some Christian schools are held captive to tradition. These are the words of a dying church, school or even a business: “We have always done it this way.” Tradition in the Webster’s Dictionary is a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time.
In choosing a Christian school, a recruit must search for a school that is growing with change, but not being conformed by the ways of the world.
One of the greatest benefits of the student-athlete choosing a Christian college is the reduced size of the student body brings more opportunity for leadership skills to be developed.
Kansas Christian College will compete primarily in the Association of Christian College Athletics (ACCA), and the National Christian College Athletic Association (NCCAA). Can you explain what these two associations are and how it will affect the experience of the athletes?
The ACCA consists of 16 colleges that are equivalent in student enrollment to KCC.
In the NCCAA, there are more than 50 colleges that are much larger schools. The NCCAA also has D1 and D2 divisions. Therefore, we may have the opportunity to participate in two national tournaments. We can definitely gain exposure and learn how to compete as a team on a higher caliber.
The opportunities to succeed or fail, win or lose, and practice to perfection are taught throughout Scripture. When one can view Christ and His disciples as a team that was under the guidance of the greatest Coach in history, then life applications available in athletics are endless.
Could you share, in whatever detail you are comfortable, what kind of athletic scholarships your team will have?
KCC does not offer athletic scholarships. Student-athletes are able to pay tuition with Federal Pell Grant(s), and we do offer scholarships for academics. There is a long list of scholarship funds that are available to be claimed each year. If anyone is interested in academic scholarships I would refer them to our website www.kansaschristian.edu to verify how the student may become qualified for funding.
What is the role of the parent in the recruiting process?
Parents can play a vital role in the recruiting process. They should make a commitment to assist their young adult from start to finish in what will be an important life decision. The parent must know that the school would be a good fit for the entire family, which makes it a team decision. Also parents will remind the student-athlete to base their decision on something other than basketball. From a recruiting standpoint, parents must be able to trust the coach.
What should players expect from a Christian college athletic experience?
A Christian college athletic experience is going to be very challenging. A student-athlete will empower their mind, body and soul. Developing champions spiritually, academically and athletically will create prepared student-athletes for corporate America.
You have had immediate success at your last couple of stops turning teams around. What have been the keys to your success? What will you do right from the start at Kansas Christian College?
Well I did what I’ve seen work when I was in college and what I saw from my high school coach. Some coaches may not agree with me, but we run drills about four weeks without the basketball. I believe in order to have success on any level one must be willing to outwork and outsmart their opponent. It’s very difficult to outwork or outsmart anyone if your team is fatigued. Defense, lay-ups, and free throws are three things I thrive on the most. I believe that offense sells tickets but defense wins championships.
So what will I do from the start at KCC? Write the vision and make it plain. Teams must buy into the system and lock into it. This is the mission. In order for the system to work, everyone must trust each other.
Bonus Question: Is there anything important that you would like to share directly with high school athletes or basketball players in particular as they navigate the recruiting process?
Yes, I do. Always weigh the pros and cons of whatever school you decide to attend. I would attend a school where I could make an immediate impact. Consider the distance because it’s very possible you will not get too many chances to visit home.
Lastly, do not put yourself into a situation that would stop a college/university from recruiting you. Words matter… Elder people used to say, “Do not let your mouth get you in trouble.”
In this digital age we live in, a person can learn a lot about you from social media. This can make a deal or break a deal. colleges/universities are checking social media during the recruiting process. Some student-athletes are being dismissed from secular colleges (NCAA) for inappropriate conduct. Do not say or do anything that will embarrass your school, your parents, or yourself.
We had small group activities at my previous employment and this was an activity:
Take a tube of toothpaste, a spoon and a paper plate. Ask for a volunteer. Ask the volunteer to squirt some of the toothpaste onto the paper plate. The participant can do however much or however little s/he wants. S/he can use the entire tube if their heart desires. When done, ask the student to put the toothpaste back into the tube.
This is how words work. Once a thing is spoken, it cannot be taken back. Sometimes the words we use take years to apologize for and/or overcome.
Last but not least and most importantly…Always put God first, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Coach Jay Jenkins began his career as an assistant coach at Broadmoor High School in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 2013. Just one year later he had his first head coaching job, leading Bethany Christian Academy to a massive turnaround season in 2014. After going 0-13 in 2013-14, Coach Jenkins turned the Bethany Lions into an 11-win playoff team in just one season.
Next, take a look at How to Look at Christian Colleges and Universities.
LIKE WHAT YOU READ?
Please take a moment to share this on social media to benefit other prospective college athletes, by clicking on the “sharing is caring” buttons below.
P.S. Come join our Facebook group, The Recruiting Code. This is the place to be for parents and coaches to talk about college recruiting. Come learn from each other, share stories and get information that will help your child become a college athlete.