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The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

“The Only Thing That Matters is Winning:” Daniss Jenkins Prepares for the 2023-2024 Season

The arrival of this key point guard will set the Red Storm up for success.
Torch Photo / Sara Kiernan

St. John’s University has entered a new realm of basketball, complete with a roster full of transfers from the portal. A few of these transfers followed new head coach Rick Pitino from Iona to Queens to elevate the school back to its former status in the Big East Conference and beyond. Among those transfers is graduate student Daniss Jenkins, a 6-foot-4 guard from Dallas. 

Jenkins began his collegiate career at the University of Pacific in the West Coast Conference (WCC) from 2019-2021. He earned an All-WCC Honorable mention during his last season there for leading the team with 12.2 points and 3.2 rebounds per game. From there he transferred back home to Texas at Odessa College for the 2021-22 season, where he led the Wranglers to an Elite Eight appearance in the NJCAA Division I Basketball Championships.

“In sports, you have to have confidence in yourself. The ultimate goal is to be a professional. If you don’t consider yourself a professional, then who will?”

— Daniss Jenkins

In 2022, Jenkins made his way to New York where he played under Pitino at Iona University. There, he helped the Gaels earn the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) regular season and tournament titles. Under Pitino’s trust he started all 35 games of Iona’s 27-8 season, averaging 15.6 points and recording double figures in 31 of them. Jenkins helped to lead that team to the MAAC title game last March against Marist. Winning the MAAC Championship’s most outstanding performer, he boasted an impressive scoring display shooting a career-best six 3-pointers and putting up 27 points to lead them to a conference championship. 

His performance last season led the 13-seeded Gaels to a short NCAA tournament run after losing to UConn in the first round. Jenkins reflected on that game at last month’s Big East Media Day held at Madison Square Garden. 

“I knew after that game that they were going to win. They had the best team,” Jenkins said. “I’m learning how to play with the lead, learning how to play a full game and not just one half.” 

His time playing in New Rochelle paid off, as he promptly followed Pitino to St. John’s, becoming the first of 10 transfers in the new roster. “I never wavered on coach,” Jenkins said on his April commitment. “As soon as I hit that portal I pretty much knew where I was going.” 

Since his arrival, Pitino has spoken highly of Jenkins’ ability to control the floor. “Daniss is our leader,” Pitino said. “He’s the vocal leader. He knows the system.” 

His skills in the back court are best complemented alongside a deep roster, which is something that Pitino has accredited the team to accomplishing in the off-season. Jenkins spoke about the assets he brings to the Johnnies this year at St. John’s Media Day

“I tell my guys everyday, as long as they run and get to the spots, and keep spacing, they’re gonna get the shot,” Jenkins said.  “I ‘play-make.’ I have a high number of assists everyday at practice just because of the team that we got, and the pieces that I have around me.” 

As for the future, Pitino’s history of molding NBA players is not lost on Jenkins. Between the five different collegiate coaching stops he made before coming to St. John’s, he has produced 29 players who were drafted or played in the NBA. 

“Daniss Jenkins is an NBA player,” Pitino said at Big East Media Day. “He’s been my best player so far at St. John’s.” 

In the Red Storm’s first exhibition game vs. Rutgers, Jenkins had 13 points and nine assists, controlling the floor as a poised leader. He was able to pace the Johnnies throughout the game like a professional would, even through fast-breaks and quick turnovers that promptly lost them their 18-point lead going into the second half. 

Daniss Jenkins attempts a shot in Oct. 29’s game vs. Pace.

“In sports, you have to have confidence in yourself,” Jenkins told The Torch. “The ultimate goal is to be a professional. If you don’t consider yourself a professional, then who will? How will a scout think that? How will a coach think that? How will you play that way if you don’t think that in your own mind?” 

After closing out the last game of their exhibition series in a poor performance against Pace, the Red Storm proved they have a ways to go in order to fulfill the expectations placed on them. Daniss Jenkins’ leadership mentality and veteran qualities on the floor will be a key factor to success for the Johnnies this season. 

“The only thing that matters is winning,” Jenkins said. “That’s the only thing.”  

Daniss Jenkins will lead the charge of a roster full of transfers that will open up their season on Nov. 7 at 7 p.m. against Stony Brook.

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About the Contributor
Isabella Cautero, Sports Editor
Isabella is a senior journalism major serving as the Sports Editor for The Torch. She is minoring in sport management. Outside of The Torch, she works as an academic tutor at the University Learning Commons. She likes to spend time with her friends, read, play with her dog and watch the New York Rangers or Yankees. On any given day you can find her listening to her favorite artists, Taylor Swift and Harry Styles. Isabella can be reached at [email protected].
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    Anthony CauteroNov 4, 2023 at 11:05 pm

    Let’s Go Johnnies!!!

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