Lehigh head men’s basketball coach Brett Reed announced on Tuesday the addition of Willie Jenkins as assistant coach. Jenkins was a former standout at Tennessee Tech, earning Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year his senior season of 2004-05, while leading his team to the regular season title. He replaces Noel Hightower on the staff, who recently departed for a position with the Indiana Pacers.
“We are pleased to welcome Willie to our basketball program,” said Lehigh head coach Brett Reed. “Willie has an impressive background as a player and a coach and I feel he will be able to immediately connect with our student-athletes and help cultivate their development on the court. One thing that is very clear is Willie has a passion and a conviction about helping young people. It is part of his outlook on life, his approach as a coach and as a member of his community. I believe Lehigh Basketball is bringing in someone who will push our young men through his personality, character as well as credible knowledge and experiences.”
As a senior in college, Jenkins was named an honorable mention All-American, scoring 546 points for a 19.5 scoring average (along with 7.2 rebounds per game). He was inducted into Tennessee Tech’s Hall of Fame in 2015.
Following his collegiate career, Jenkins went on to play professional basketball for seven years in Europe before playing two seasons in the NBA D-League. His international experiences include stops in Israel, France, Germany, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. While in France, Jenkins developed a friendship with Lehigh alum, Jose Olivero. The two have remained close since and developed a mutual respect due to a common work ethic, drive and focus.
Jenkins also participated in NBA Combine workouts with the Grizzlies, Hornets, Knicks and Rockets, as well as participating in the NBA Pre-Draft Camp in Chicago. These athletic experiences and accomplishments solidified his love of the game. They also helped him build a vast background, increased his knowledge and served as a foundation for many early coaching successes.
Jenkins has spent the previous three years as the head boy’s varsity basketball coach at Evangelical Christian School (ECS) in Memphis, Tennessee. His first season, he began to build a foundation for success. In both his second and third years, he led his team to consecutive state quarterfinal appearances. This also included coaching and mentoring Kam Jones, who is entering his freshman season at Marquette. Along with on-court success, Jenkins is noted to have built a very strong culture of accountability and holistic development of his student-athletes. He has also served as the Director of Student Life at the school, and served as an assistant coach for Team Thad within Nike’s EYBL circuit – and with AC Georgia within Under Armour’s Rise circuit.
Heavily involved in his community, Jenkins was recently named to the Board of Directors for the Memphis Athletic Ministries. It’s a program designed for middle school through high school boys to help understand authentic manhood and transition successfully into adulthood.
Jenkins and the Mountain Hawks will kick off their season next Wednesday, Nov. 10 at Rutgers. Gametime is set for 7 p.m. on Big Ten Network Plus.