Hofstra’s Charles Jenkins a prize for smart NBA teams

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Some team will snag Charles Jenkins sometime in the NBA draft’s first round. Whoever makes the pick will look very smart someday. (Which means it’ll probably be the Spurs.)

Jenkins, the Hofstra star who left as the school’s all-time leading scorer and even had his jersey retired before the end of his senior season, is a 6-3 senior combo guard who has a scorer’s mentality and a point guard’s brains. If his physical gifts, on-court exploits and awards – he was back-to-back CAA player of the year – aren’t enough to convince teams to take him in the teens, a couple of excellent statistical stories should.

The first comes from SI.com’s Luke Winn, who declares Jenkins the sleeper of the 2011 draft.

Smart college hoops fans and NBA scouts know how good Jenkins was, but Winn compared him to the other elite guards of the draft and showed he might just be the best of the bunch because of his proficiency in isolation possessions – otherwise known as the NBA’s default offense.

Jenkins rates better than Boston College’s Reggie Jackson, Colorado’s Alec Burks, BYU’s Jimmer Fredette, Providence’s Marshon Brooks and Washington State’s Klay Thompson in terms of isolation efficiency (1.119 points per possession)and is just behind Fredette in spot-up isolation efficiency (1.360 to 1.475 PPP). And it’s not like Jenkins thrived in isolation occasionally. Only Brooks and Fredette had higher usage isolation percentages

Even more impressive? When Jenkins had a clutch-and-shoot opportunity with a guy in his face, he scored 1.3898 PPP, 15th nationally. Yes, he was playing mostly against CAA foes, but in case you missed it, the CAA had some damn fine teams this season. Jenkins can score. Simple as that.

As a helpful guide for people wondering just who Jenkins’ efficient scoring ways might compare to in the last 10 years of college hoops, John Templon from NY Buckets ran some similarity scores. NBA onlookers might want to take note of three of the top 10 guys: Delonte West, Jameer Nelson and Eric Maynor.

Those numbers account for a host of factors, too: usage %, points per possession, turnover rate, free-throw rate, three-point/field goal attempts, effective field goal percentage, assist rate and offensive rebound percentage. As John writes, it’s essentially everything a player might do on offense. For Jenkins to be compared to West and Nelson – two mid-major guys who’ve either started or been the first guy off the bench during their NBA careers – that’s some high praise.

As a comparison, all three of those guys were taken between the 20th and 24th picks in their respective drafts. If Jenkins lasts that long, a good team will grab him — and be delighted.

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