- Kieran Darcy, ESPNNewYork.com
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Eighty minutes before the Philadelphia 76ers faced the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday, point guard Charles Jenkins was sitting in the visitors locker room at the Barclays Center, eyes glued to a TV screen playing a previous game between the teams.
The Brooklyn native and former Hofstra star was getting ready for his second NBA game in his home borough. Yet most of his family, including his mother, would not be in the building.
"They don't know like, as far as my playing situation," Jenkins said. "So they're just gonna watch [on TV], and I'll probably see them in a couple weeks."
He was one of the best college players from New York City in recent memory. But real life, as Jenkins has learned, is far more complicated -- even in the NBA.
His college career ended on a high note. Jenkins finished sixth in the nation in scoring his senior season, averaging 22.6 points per game. He received the Haggerty Award, as the top Division I player in New York, for the third year in a row. The only other three-time winners? Jim McMillian and Chris Mullin.
Jenkins was so popular on campus, Hofstra took the unprecedented step of retiring his number before he was even done playing there.
In the lead-up to the 2011 NBA draft, some experts predicted Jenkins would be a first-round pick. He ended up dropping to the middle of the second round, selected 44th overall by the Golden State Warriors. But that's still quite an achievement for a player from a mid-major school.
As a rookie, Jenkins didn't see much action in his first few games. But his playing time gradually increased, in part because of injuries to Golden State star Stephen Curry. By the end of the season he was in the team's starting five, and finished with averages of 5.8 points and 3.3 assists per game.
In the third-to-last game of the season, Jenkins had 24 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds, helping the Warriors rally from a 21-point deficit to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"He's a tough New York City kid," coach Mark Jackson, another New York native, said after the game. "A tough, hard-nosed kid who has no quit."
Yet how quickly things can change. With Curry healthy, and veteran point guard Jarrett Jack acquired in the offseason, Jenkins was relegated to benchwarmer status again at the start of this season. Then on Feb. 21, the day of the NBA trading deadline, he was shipped to Philadelphia for a second-round draft pick, so that the Warriors could get under the league's luxury-tax threshold.
Jenkins had already gone through a full practice and weightlifting session that day, prior to the noon Pacific deadline, but then was called into a meeting with general manager Bob Myers and Jackson.
"It was surprising," Jenkins said. "My first time being on the business end of basketball."
His brief time with the 76ers has been a roller coaster, too. Jenkins played just two minutes in his first seven games with the team. Coach Doug Collins suddenly gave him 29 minutes against the Atlanta Hawks on March 6, and he finished with seven points and five assists.
That led to double-digit minutes in six of the team's next seven games. But then it was back to the bench -- Jenkins had not played in six consecutive games prior to Tuesday.
Jenkins did get a few minutes Tuesday night -- but not until the fourth quarter, with his team trailing 90-64 and the outcome no longer in doubt.
"Charles has shown some flashes," Collins said. "Very strong, very good midrange player. Actually had some decent games for us when we first got him. Sort of leveled off a little bit.
"Unfortunately for us he's at a spot where we've got Evan [Turner], we've got Jrue [Holiday], Damien Wilkins has played at a very, very high level. We've got Nick Young, we've got Dorell Wright, we've added Justin Holiday now. So we have sort of a plethora of guys at that position. But he's an NBA player."
He is right now -- but for how long? Jenkins' rookie contract is up at the end of this season, which for the 31-46 Sixers will come next week.
Jenkins admitted that's weighing heavily on his mind right now.
"You want to have an idea of where you're gonna be next year," Jenkins said. "But it's out of my hands. The only thing I can do is continue to work out and stay sharp, and whoever calls, whatever happens, I've gotta be ready."
At age 24, Charles Jenkins' future is suddenly up in the air. He's talented, no doubt -- but so is everyone else around him. He may deserve another chance -- yet there's no guarantee he will get one. Life isn't always fair.
But no matter what happens from here, he's accomplished one thing that nobody can take away.
"I proved that I can play in the NBA," Jenkins said. "That was one of the biggest things that I wanted to do coming out of college. I think I did that."
At age 24, former Hofstra star Charles Jenkins' future is suddenly up in the air.