November 16, 2008

Maddux: VU gets ''an unbelievable young man''

For Kevin Stallings, Vanderbilt's fall signing period was short and sweet. Though VU nabbed just one recruit, Gallatin Station Camp's John Jenkins could prove to be the best guard Stallings has ever brought to Ingram Court in his 10 years at the helm of the Commodores' program.

Jenkins' AAU coach is a former Commodore guard and regular contributor Drew Maddux. Shortly after Jenkins' signing was announced, dialed up Maddux to get his unique take on his star summer league guard.

Drew, you've had the privilege of coaching John in the AAU summer league circuit, as well as two kids on your Christ Presbyterian Academy team, Ezekiel Mason and Hunter Miller[db]. You had known that John had been hoping to come to VU for some time. Tell me your first take on John and his decision to attend your alma mater.

"Vanderbilt is getting an unbelievable young man that has a great support system. John is going to experience what will be a lifetime of memories playing at Vanderbilt, with the best caching staff in the SEC, an unbelievable learning environment, and the joys of playing college basketball in your home town."

First off, Drew, what kind of player is John?

"John is an outstanding scorer. He can score in so many ways: he shoots with great distance, has a great mid-range game, and can finish around the basket with either hand and in transition.

"Also, John is a great rebounder; He never gets the credit he deserves for that. He has great strength and length for a guy at his position. Further, he has an outstanding work ethic and will work as hard as any kid Vanderbilt has had in recent memory.

"John is coachable and has a great attitude and a will to succeed.

What, if anything, does John need to improve on to be the player he could be?

"Not unlike any player that is making the transition from high school to college, John will have to learn how to pick up a more sophisticated system on the offensive and defensive ends. He will have to learn to move without the ball and be a part of the offense early and not the main focus- that will take some adjusting to.

"Defensively, he has to have better awareness and learn concept relating to being a good team defensive player."

John and his family have been very visible around Memorial since he committed. He sure seems excited about becoming a Commodore.

"John is a great kid. He loves other people and loves being on a team. He is quiet at times but, once you get to know him, he really opens up. I always enjoyed coaching him because he loves to play and compete and he wants to be the best student-athlete he can be.

"I think that starts with his foundation at home as his parents are amazing people that have raised John to be a young man of character and have established a core value set in him that will last a lifetime.

"Further, John"s high school coach, Seth Massey, was a great mentor for John and loved him well."

Being a former Vandy player, what is your feeling on having someone you coach sign with VU?

"Obviously, I would be lying if I said it did not excite me on some level, but, to be honest, I love John and wanted him to go to a place that be a great fit for him in all areas of his collegiate experience: athletically, academically, and socially. I think Vanderbilt connected with John in all of those areas.

"With that being said, had John decided that somewhere else would had been a better fit for him, I still would have been just as proud as he had worked extremely hard and was on a mission to play big-time college basketball and I am so happy to see his dream fulfilled."

Drew, what play stood out the most that indicates what kind of player John wlll be for Vandy?

"I was coaching the Tennessee Tigers when they were 15 and under and we had already won the 15 under state and after that tournament was when we met John and his dad, John, Sr. They decided they wanted to be on our team. We were asked to play at the 16 under state at Goodpasture as they had a cancellation so we graciously accepted.

"John wanted to play so badly with his new team, but really did not know our system or nomenclature or anything about our guys. So I was just going to allow him to sit on the bench and not play but, try to learn.

"We were in the semi-finals and it was in the second half and we were struggling to score against a bigger and more physical team. So, I put in John to see if he could create some energy for our team. I think he made like his first six or seven shots in the second half and we went on to win easily. It was a great indicator of his toughness and competitiveness.

"The other game that stands out to me was when we were in Augusta at the Nike Peach Jam, when they were 16. Our first game we beat Meanstreets out of Chicago and then the second game we had to play Birmingham, with big [db]Demarcous Cousins, who at the time was the No. 1 player in the country.

With standing room only and every major head coach in attendance, including Kevin Stallings, Bruce Pearl, Roy Williams, Billy Donavan, among countless others, John exploded in the first half for like 25 or 27 points on six or seven three's. It was an amazing performance.

"Needless to say, my phone blew up that night! (laughing)

Where do you see him playing at VU, given the young talent now there (especially freshman guard Jeffery Taylor).

"John will fit in well as he has a skill set that is needed in college basketball, especially with the three point line moving back a foot. I think you will see much more consolidated defensive approaches this year, teams that are content with protecting the lane.

"John will instantly be able to stretch back out defenses which will have a huge impact on guys like Jeff and Jermaine Beal, who can drive the ball really well and finish or guys like Steve Tchiengang, Festus Ezeli, and AJ, who are physical and score in the post."

Final question: How good will Station Camp be this year?

"Not sure. They will be good because they have the best player in the state on their team and Seth does a nice job with them. I do know they lost some key seniors off of last year's team. With John, I know his team will always be successful.

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