Josh Jenkins hospitalized after automobile crash

Alonso Tacanga

CSUN starting point guard Josh Jenkins was involved in an automobile crash Saturday night. Jenkins, a senior who leads the men’s basketball team in assists, is currently recovering at the California Medical Center in Los Angeles and was said to be ‘stable.’

The driver of the vehicle Jenkins was in on the tragic night was killed.

‘Another unexpected event ‘hellip;’ CSUN Head Coach Bobby Braswell said. ‘The blessing of it is that Josh is alive and that he’s going to recover. How long will it take? I don’t know.’

Reactions to the news brought ‘shock’ around the Matador locker room on Monday. Just hours before the crash, Jenkins had helped CSUN win its sixth straight game, a 77-64 victory over UC Riverside at the Matadome. Now his season could be over.

‘I went to see him (Sunday) night,’ said forward Kenny Daniels, Jenkins’ team and housemate. ‘He was stable, but he talked to us a little bit like ‘hellip; (he was in pain). He said he’s alright, but he looked pretty bad.’

According to Daniels, Jenkins, who in a twist of fate had joked about what one of his teammate’s Valentine’s Day plans were in a post-game conference, was badly bruised from his arms and had some internal pain. Jenkins will remain at the hospital for several more days.

The Matadors were just relieved to learn Jenkins made it out alive.

‘Our prayers go to Josh,’ CSUN forward Tremaine Townsend said. ‘We hope for a fast recovery.’

While there’s plenty of optimism to go around among teammates regarding Jenkins’ way back to health, there isn’t quite as much confidence about whether he can make it back in time before the season ends. The Matadors, who are currently in first place in the Big West Conference, only have six regular-season games left in their schedule before the league tournament takes place in mid-March.

There is no word yet on the specifics of his injuries, so an assessment of when he’ll return is premature at this point. Can Jenkins return in less than a month and ‘- more importantly for CSUN’s chances ‘- back as his old 10-points-and-six-assists-per-game self?

The Matadors hope so, but, either way, they’re prepared.

‘Our focus is to move forward,’ CSUN guard Rob Haynes said. ‘We have guys on the team that can step up. Our’ goal is still to win this league.’

CSUN looked poised to accomplish its goal even with the loss of another one of their stars, leading scorer Deon Tresvant, back in January due to off-the-court issues. The Matadors went 8-2 without Tresvant as several other players stepped up to fill the void he left as he has been withheld from games until his problems have been cleared.

One of those players was Jenkins, who averaged 17 points per game in a four-game span before suffering an ankle injury that slowed him down. He seemed to have regained his health Saturday as he led CSUN in scoring with 19 points.

As fate would have it, Jenkins couldn’t enjoy that health for long.

‘Things like this happen in life,’ Braswell said. ‘I can’t be frustrated about it. I believe everything happens for a purpose and a reason. We don’t always understand. We don’t always know why, but I do know that every time you have adversity, it’s an opportunity to grow.’

The opportunity will fall on Jenkins’ backup, guard Mark Hill, who’s played in only eight of the Matadors’ 22 games due to ineligibility early in the season. Hill has averaged six points and 1.6 assists per game. Freshman point guard Matt Wallace figures to see some minutes as well along with 6-3 guard Rodrigue Mels, whom Braswell said will play Jenkins’ position at times.

‘We’re going to miss Josh greatly, but we’re still here,’ Townsend said. ‘We have a lot of people that can step up. We’re not done yet. We’ve been through a lot. We can’t let this beat us.’

Tresvant, who still practices with the team, also spoke up and said to have been ‘devastated’ by the news. The guard has faith that Jenkins can come back soon, though. He wishes the same for himself and said he ‘has hope’ on the latter happening.

Meanwhile, CSUN has a game at UC Irvine Wednesday night. With their starting point guard gone for quite a while, the Matadors said it’s a matter of others stepping up ‘- again ‘- to keep the winning streak and the No. 1 seed in the Big West intact.

‘It’s a big blow to us, but we’re going to be okay,’ Braswell said.