- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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The difference between a plane ride and a car trip played a pivotal role in leading Wings Academy senior guard Justin Jenkins to commit to Fairfield over Florida Atlantic.
"It came down to my mother being able to come see me play and being able to stay close to my home and my family," Jenkins said. "I'm also going to get a good education."
Jenkins chose the Stags on Monday after completing his unofficial visit to Florida Atlantic. He averaged 17.1 points and seven assists in league play as he led the Wings to the Public Schools Athletic League Class AA semifinals this past season.
"I feel like it's a good program," Jenkins said about the Stags, who made the MAAC title game this year. "They have a good recruiting class coming in,"
The 6-2 guard came to his conclusion after returning home from Florid and talking to his mother and one of his AAU coaches, Casey Williams, who he says is like a big brother to him. Jenkins liked how Fairfield always kept tabs on him.
"They were always at my games," Jenkins said. "I saw Fairfield people all season."
The senior was a late bloomer on the recruiting trail, not really emerging until his junior season. A broken leg his sophomore year kept him from playing with the varsity and he averaged 10 points and 2.4 assists in league games for Wings as a junior.
After the departure of several key seniors last year, Jenkins showcased his ability to play the point and be a leader this year, according to Wings Academy head coach Billy Turnage. The coach said Jenkins did a phenomenal job handling those responsibilities.
Turnage said Jenkins is the type of player who does several things very well, compared to one great skill, mentioning his ability to score from every point on the floor. He said Jenkins defensive and strength could improve, but believes the strength will come with being on a college campus.
"It's a great fit for him," Turnage said. "Education wise, he's going to get a high-class education and he has an opportunity to step forward and earn some minutes for the team right away."
Jenkins said making a decision was stressful, as there was so much importance on making the right one, and he's glad it's over. He's probably going to take summer classes at Fairfield.
He said the Stags expect him to work hard right away and develop as a point guard, emphasizing the ability to share the ball. Jenkins is hoping that he can bring that same leadership and steady guard play that he demonstrated this past season with Wings.
The guard will be joined at Fairfield by Cardinal Hayes senior center Amadou Sidibe, and Jenkins is excited to be heading there with another New York City player.
"I'm excited to play with him," Jenkins said. "I've played with him before so it's exciting to be able to play with someone you know at college, it makes it a little easier."