June 9, 2014

Jennings to point the way

Kevin McCarthy

6-foot Tyler Jennings wasn't necessarily the proverbial straw that stirred the Capital Christian High hoops drink in his three-year varsity tenure but rather the blender who mixed the various components to ensure the sweet taste of success. Now he is headed 25 miles northeast to continue his performance as a mixologist.

photo of Tyler Jennings

Consider that the top Capital Christian squad finished 17-11, 6-4 before the arrival of Jennings. Then it was 26-6, 9-1, 26-5, 8-2 and finally 28-4, 10-0 this season. No wonder Coach Lance Von Vogt of William Jessup University (WJU) desired the nearby point guard to lead his Warriors.

The feeling is mutual.

“A lot of different things came into play,” Jennings explained about his signing. “It's close to home, I liked the coaches, it's a good fit and I know some of the players. Coach Von Vogt explained their plan to me and I want to be part of it.”

As to what he'll bring to the court for the Warriors, Jennings offered, “I'm an old school point guard who like to be the floor general, setting up teammates and knocking down open shots.”

He sees his best skills as being “a pretty smart player who does what it takes to win but doesn't try to do too much.”

Jennings attributes his basketball IQ to "growing up playing for my Dad. He [Jason Jennings, coach of the Nor Cal Pharaohs) was a point guard and taught me the ins-and-outs of basketball." One element he picked up from his father is “knowing the outs in every situation against defenses.”

But curiously, it was a battle of sorts between basketball and baseball for Jennings. “I grew up playing both sports and might have been better at baseball. But I loved basketball and liked baseball.”

About his best basketball moments, Jennings offered a quartet of highlights.

“Every single game at Arco Arena [in the playoffs] plus playing against Brookside Christian in my junior year when I hit free throws at the end.” .07 showed on the clock at the time in what became a 40-39 San Joaquin Section Division V championship game win.

He added, “playing in the Gridley tournament this season and also the Palm Springs tournament.” However, the good time in Gridley wasn't just about the basketball experience. “It didn't feel like high school because we stayed in people's homes and they made you feel like a superstar. My hosts actually came to some of our [Capital Christian] games in Sacramento and also came to my graduation.”

Also as part of the Gridley event, Jennings scored 30 points in a semi-final matchup with Campolindo and his three free throws in regulation tied the game which Capital Christian won 80-71 in overtime. He won tournament Most Valuable Player honors.

Regarding Palm Springs, “we beat Westchester (47-43) and Etiwanda (48-42) which was ranked No. 5 nationally at the time.” In the latter contest, he shot 10-10 from the foul line. Versus Westchester, his two free throws with 15 seconds remaining put the game out of reach.

Jennings credits his father, Capital Christian Coach Devon Jones and Matt Clifford, an assistant at Jesuit High, for aiding him throughout the process of getting to where he is today.

WJU, after a 15-12 overall record, 9-3 in the California Pacific Conference, is now in the NAIA Golden State Athletic Conference which also consists of Arizona Christian, Biola, Concordia, Hope International, The Master's College, San Diego Christian, Vanguard and Westmont.

William Jessup will now have a coach on the floor alongside its coach on the bench.