Forward Jenkins uses adopted family to instill values on, off court as Villanova sophomore

first_img Published on December 20, 2014 at 9:07 am Contact Connor: [email protected] | @connorgrossman Felicia Jenkins had to make the hardest sacrifice a mother could for the sake of her son’s future. She gave him up.At only 12 years old, Kris Jenkins left his family and home in South Carolina to live with the Britt family in Upper Marlboro, Maryland. With one of Kris’ younger sisters ill in the hospital and knowing Kris’ basketball future would be in great hands with Nathaniel Britt, Felicia gave up legal guardianship of her son in 2007.“Once we made a commitment to do it,” Nathaniel said, “We knew we were all in and we were going to share that kind of love for (Jenkins) that we did our own kids.”Current North Carolina guard Nate Britt had played against Kris in AAU tournaments before, and the two families had built a relationship through basketball with the help of Nathaniel, Nate’s father and coach.Kris continued to blossom as a basketball player living with the Britts, topping out at 6 feet, 5 inches and 235 pounds in his senior year of high school as a four-star prospect, according to Scout. The forward accepted an offer to play at Villanova, where he’s shooting 47 percent from the field and averaging 7.7 points per game in his sophomore season.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textHe also became a member of the Britt family, where the expectations for their kids were the same as they were for Kris, whether that was on the practice court or in the house.But maybe the biggest expectation of Kris was his in his abilities at the free-throw line. He’ll hone in on his 10-for-15 mark from the free throw line. Nathaniel said there’s a big rule in the Britt household: no one misses a free throw.If someone missed during workouts, they did suicide runs with a basketball.“Your job is to zero in and focus,” Nathaniel said. “If you go through the same routine over and over again, you can close your eyes and imagine where that basket is.“It doesn’t change.”And going through the same routine over and over again is exactly what Kris and Nate went through. Nathaniel would wake up Kris and Nate every Saturday and Sunday morning at 5:15 a.m. to work out.There were no breaks or exceptions, with Nathaniel priding himself on holding team practice on New Year’s Day. The workouts were rigorous and relentless, but Nate said it’s shaped Kris into the player he is today for the Wildcats.“Kris is one of the best shooters I’ve ever played with,” Nate said. “He had to change his game a little bit over time from a (center) to a (forward), but I got to see him progress and grow in that aspect of the game.”The adaptation for Kris to change positions was something rooted in him as a young child. His mother Felicia has been coaching since 1993, and she and her husband relayed a very simple message to her son.“My parents always said they wanted me to be a basketball player,” Kris told The Washington Post in 2013. “I didn’t know what that meant until now; it’s somebody that can do a little bit of everything.”The expectation of Kris was to do a little bit of everything off the court as well in the Britt household. He was expected to take the trash out and do the dishes just as Nate and his sister Natayla were. His dedication to schoolwork needed to be prevalent, and he needed to shoot free throws like he was born to do so.There is also one last bit of “family bonding” at the end of each workout. Given Kris’ size and build, he wasn’t exactly the fleetest on foot. But the rule was that if Natayla beat out either Kris or Nate in the final set of suicide runs, they would have to do them again.Nathaniel laughed and said Kris hadn’t lost to Natayla – yet — but he definitely “sweated it out a few times.”Family bonding in that manner was just another reason Nate refers to Kris as his brother without hesitation. Nathaniel molded Kris into the player and man he sought out for his sons to be, and the transformation is remarkable in his eyes.“Kris has improved as a much better young man than anything we could ever talk about in basketball,” Nathaniel said, “He’s going to be one hell of a husband and parent one day, and hopefully I’ll be around to witness that moment in his life.“That’s what’s going to make me feel pretty damn good.” Comments Facebook Twitter Google+last_img