When Don’trell Jenkins was young, his dad told him he had to play every sport until he was 12 years old and then he could select what he wanted to play. On Thursday, the Santa Fe High School’s standout point guard signed to play basketball with Davis & Elkins College.
Although Jenkins continued to play football and baseball throughout his four years with the Raiders, it was on the basketball court where his star burned the brightest in a career that featured four straight state playoff appearances and being named first-team All Area by Mainstreet Daily News following his sophomore, junior and senior seasons.
“Now he’s going to get his opportunity to showcase his talent and play basketball in West Virginia,” Santa Fe athletic director Michele Faulk said at the start of the signing ceremony. “He’s getting a full-ride scholarship and I can tell you that I am going to miss this young man beyond words. I have watched him grow up in our gym, literally.”
Faulk said Jenkins was a third grader when he became the ball boy for the SFHS team.
“He would pick up their sweat towels and water bottles and just always had the biggest smile and would come over and give the biggest hugs to everybody around him,” Faulk said. “He just was a gym rat. And he was a four-year varsity letterman.”
While Jenkins donned a big smile throughout the ceremony, his on-court demeanor was less joyful for his opponents.
Former Santa Fe coach Elliott Harris, who led the Raiders for 20 years before stepping down after the team’s Class 4A championship appearance in 2021, talked about how his youngest son, Jamir, played with Don’trell when they were kids.
“He was the same type of player, the same sauciness back then, and he earned his name way back then,” Harris said of Jenkins’ nickname of “Saucy” for his play on the court. “I’m excited for him to have this opportunity. He’s earned this opportunity—nobody gave him anything.”
Harris called Jenkins “one of the best basketball players to ever play” at Santa Fe High School.
“I can say that because I was here for 21 years and watched a lot of basketball players come through here,” Harris said.
As a freshman, Jenkins averaged nine points per game and followed that with a sophomore campaign in which he averaged 13.4 points, 3.8 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 2.6 steals.
As a junior, Jenkins had 17 points, 3.6 assists, 3 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game before finishing his career with 18 points, 2.6 assists and 1.8 steals per game as a senior.
Jenkins thanked several people, including Faulk, Harris and current Santa Fe basketball coach Glen Banks, but spent most of his time talking about his parents as he showered them with words of appreciation for challenging and supporting him.
Looking back on his career with the Raiders, Jenkins said there were three games that stood out the most.
The first was his sophomore season when Santa Fe fell in double overtime, 90-83, to Pine Crest for the 4A state championship game in 2021, when he scored a team-high 31 points.
“I dropped 31 and I didn’t notice, I was just playing the game I was supposed to play and I ended up with 31,” he said.
The other game was his final contest in a Raiders jersey when Santa Fe fell at home in the region final to The Villages, 66-60 and Jenkins scored a team-high 28 points.
“Even though we lost, I feel like that game, since it was my last game, it was just like wow, this is it,” he said. “But at the same time, it was like if you played your heart out there, there’s nothing left to leave on.”
The third game was the Raiders’ 71-69 home loss in the district championship against North Marion on Feb. 10 that snapped an 18-game Santa Fe win streak.
“I had dropped 43 points,” he said. “I think that was like one of the best games I’ve ever played in Santa Fe history. It was just in my mind that we had to win because we had won district every year. We lost, but that was still one of my favorite games.”
As for the college Jenkins will attend, David & Elkins, located in Elkins, West Virginia, is a Division II school that plays in the Mountain East Conference. The Senators went 19-11 in the 2022-23 regular season and 12-10 in conference play before losing in the Mountain East Tournament semifinals.
“They always stuck by my side throughout my recruitment process,” Jenkins said of the college. “And when I went up there on my visit, they had brought me in with love and were very genuine. They were telling me about how I would live up there. Then we went out to eat and had a workout and from that point, I was like this is going to be my new home.”