RA’s Jenkins chooses Southern Miss

Published 12:00 am Saturday, April 17, 2010



RESERVE – Cedric Jenkins said it feels like it was just yesterday that he was 5 years old and being told by his mother to stop shooting on the neighbor’s basketball goal, that it was time to come inside.

Today, he’s a Division I basketball player to be — officially.

On Thursday, the Riverside guard inked his letter of intent to attend and play basketball at the University of Southern Mississippi, ending his courtship by a number of schools.

“It happens so fast,” said Jenkins.

Jenkins, a four-time All-State selection and four-time state champion, was recruited by Tulane, Alabama, Nebraska, Baylor and Louisiana Tech but decided he would be donning the jersey of the Golden Eagles this fall.

He said he came to his decision on Sunday, after a night of heavy reflection.

“I didn’t get to sleep until maybe 5 in the morning,” he said. “I couldn’t sleep at all because I was thinking about it. But I had a good feeling about (Southern Miss). I felt I’d seen all I needed to see from them.”

He said a number of things attracted him to the school, including its size and location.

“It’s not too big or too small, and you’ve got everything that you need close by,” he said. “When I made my visit, I could feel the love. They support all of their sports, and the campus is very active.

“I know everyone thinks my mom made this call because she wants to keep me close,” he said with a smile, “but this was totally my decision.”

His mother, Crystal, who raised Cedric as a single parent, said she couldn’t be prouder of what her son has accomplished.

“If Cedric never accomplishes another thing in his life, he’s already made me so proud,” she said. “I just love him. By the grace of God, he’s grown into such a mature young man.”

After helping lead Reserve Christian to three straight state titles, Jenkins made the jump to Riverside after RCS closed its doors last year. There, he averaged 19 points per game, eight rebounds, six assists and a block per game as a senior as he and the Rebels notched the school’s first state basketball championship.

For his career, he’s been the model of consistency. Jenkins has averaged over 20 points per game in his career, and he has never had a season average of below 19. He also sports career marks of six rebounds, five assists and two steals a game.

Riverside coach Timmy Byrd said Jenkins was highly sought after.

“Tim Floyd at UTEP called and said that he had to have him,” said Byrd. “At Southern Miss, they were going to sign O.J. Mayo’s brother (Todd Mayo, senior at Southwind High-Tennessee) until they realized they had a shot at Cedric. They’re really excited about him.”

Byrd said Jenkins will fill a definite need for the Golden Eagles and coach Larry Eustachy, who finished 20-14 overall and 8-8 in Conference USA a year ago.

“The games they lost, many came because they lacked someone that could hit the three. And that plays right into Cedric’s strength,” Byrd said.

“(Eustachy) is one of the top defensive coaches in the country, and now they’re trying to bring in some skilled guys to play more up-tempo. Cedric fits that.

“When a kid is a good player, but also someone with great character and principles, that makes it special. And that’s Cedric.”

As for Jenkins, he has much to look forward to as a collegiate athlete.

But when asked what he looked forward to the most, the four-time champion’s answer was singular.

“Winning,” Jenkins said.