Let me start by saying this... I am a new fan of Justin Jenifer.
It is easy to start off reacting with the negatives. "5"9" and 160 is way too small for a serious player at this level" or "He is turnover prone". While both statements are likely true, I urge you to look at the benefits, because they are many and they are great.
1. Pass First - Jenifer averaged 18 points and 13 assists per game last year. 13 assists per game? A player who looks to pass first is huge for UC in numerous ways. First, we now have someone who can create scoring opportunities! Hopefully, Jenifer can help move the Bearcats away from waiting until the last seconds of the shot clock and chucking up a 20+ footer. Second, and this is the big one, is with recruiting. Players want their shots. Knowing Cincinnati will have a pass first PG will have recruits around the country drooling at the opportunity to have their hunger for shots fed by Justin.
2. IQ - Jenifer is a smart player... a really smart player. His high school coach, Mike Silverman reports that Jenifer is "probably the highest IQ point guard [he's] ever coached". On top of being recruited by other basketball powerhouses, such as Louisville and Xavier, Jenifer was also reportedly recruited by more academically focused schools such as Harvard, Cornell, Princeton, and Stanford. Jenifer is rocking a 3.8 GPA and wants to major in forensic science, which is great since UC's criminal justice program ranks 3rd in the country. Jenifer said that the combination of an elite basketball program along with strong academics was a major factor in picking Cincinnati.
3. Ball Handling - Jenifer can handle the rock. Everyone who plays basketball thinks they can play point guard for some reason. The announcers last night said that Tim Duncan has asked to bring the ball up the floor for the Spurs. C'mon man (in my best Keyshawn Johnson voice). Yeah - we have Troy and Ge'Lawn for now, but Jenifer solidifies that we will maintain a crop of ball handers for at least a few more years. It feels good knowing that we may not have to resort to someone like SK expending energy by bringing the ball up the court when they aren't that good of a ball handler and should be saving their energy for other things (like shooting).
4. Talent - Jenifer is nationally ranked #100 by Top247 and #101 by Future150. He may not make a large immediate impact, but he adds to the stability of the program. He will likely have to compete with Troy Caupain when he gets here, an idea which he is not foreign to. Jenifer actually played with Caupain when he was just eight years old. You can see how good and intelligent Jenifer is in this video...
Justin Jenifer Highlights and Interview OFFICIAL (RARE Footage) (via diamondeyesports)
5. The Bearcat Attitude - Cronin has built a program off of toughness and players who work hard from tip to buzzer. Jenifer, sporting a Napoleon complex, comes in with that chip already on his shoulder. As a fan of Cincinnati's blue collar reputation, I look forward to knowing that Jenifer will help to continue the tradition of toughness that has become Bearcat Basketball.
Jenifer will be playing in the NBA Players Camp Top 100 next week and then will be rejoining the AAU powerhouse Team Takeover, which also lays claim to top PG recruits Bryant Crawford and Kevin Dorsey.
-Daniele "Da" Bologna