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Jenkins no longer 'Big Ed'

by Greg Talkington

SPORTS WRITER

SALEM -- At 6-foot-9 and 340 pounds, Ed Jenkins was known as mammoth Ed Jenkins when he first was recruited to Salem-Teikyo University last summer.

Last season, with his weight hovering in the 280-pound range, he was simply known as big Ed Jenkins.

Now, after shedding another 20 pounds, should we now call him lithe Ed Jenkins?

With the school undergoing a name change to Salem International University, maybe it's only fitting that Jenkins has a new-and-improved body. It's a frame still big enough to bang in the paint, but trim enough to get up and down the floor at a much faster rate than he did last season.

That likely spells B-I-G T-R-O-U-B-L-E for the opposition in 2000-2001.

Last season, Jenkins was a key cog in Salem's high-powered offense. This year, he hopes to be the main attraction.

"We were a very selfish team last year," Jenkins said. "If I got going early in a game and scored eight or 10 points off the bat, sometimes I wouldn't see the ball for awhile.

"We had guys on the team that worried about points and looking good instead of worrying about winning.

"I'm here to win and I don't expect that to be a problem this year."

Actually, winning wasn't a problem last year, as S-TU's 28-4 record would attest to. But because the team didn't advance to NCAA Division II's Elite Eight, the season was considered a wash after reaching the national tournament in 1999.

Jenkins has his sights set even higher for 2001.

"I want to win the national championship," Jenkins said. "There's a lot of young talent, but we're talented enough to do it."

One reason for Jenkins' optimism is the presence of junior point guard Kenny Brunner, a highly-heralded player at Georgetown during the 1997-98 season.

"He's really quick and is a true point guard," Jenkins said. "He likes to penetrate and dish off.

"I like to finish, so I think we'll make a great combination."

Brunner won't be eligible until the second semester, leaving the team to be run by senior co-captain Michael Blunt, who has also shed 20 pounds since last season.

"Michael and I have worked out a lot together since last season," Jenkins said. "He's slimmer and quicker too and will do a good job at either guard position."

With his new-found sleek physique, Jenkins might not surprise some of his smaller foes in the West Virginia Conference.

Last year, Jenkins' favorite ploy was to lumber down the court, slowly set up on the block, catch a pass and then quickly spin by a stunned defender left flat-footed for a rim-rocking dunk.

"I like to play possum a little," Jenkins said with a grin. "If I see we're going to set up in half court, I'll take a little extra time to get in there hoping they'll think I'm tired.

"When they start laying on me and I get the ball, it's like I get an extra boost of energy and just explode by them for a dunk."

Jenkins, who was heavily recruited out of high school, has drawn the attention of pro scouts.

"We have guys calling in here every day asking about Ed," assistant coach Danny Young said. "I think he's going to get a chance to play at the next level."

For now, Jenkins just wants to keep working hard to improve his game and his overall fitness level.

"This summer, I worked with a personal trainer," he said. "I've been working really hard this fall to lose weight.

"Now, I wan't to keep working hard in the weight room to build more muscle and get quicker."

Even if he doesn't make it at the next level, he already has accomplished much.

"I got my associates degree in Business in junior college," Jenkins said. "I think that made my mother the happiest I've ever seen her.

"And, I'll have my degree in Youth and Human Services when I leave here in May."

Sports writer Greg Talkington can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at gtalkington@exponent-telegram.com.

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