Fighting For an Opportunity: The Brent Jennings Story
Merriam-Webster defines the word opportunity as “a good chance for advancement or progress.” The word opportunity is sacred to every single member of the D-League because they know how they have to claw and bite in practices to gain minutes and playing time. The D-League is a battlefield where you have to fight because everybody is going after that same goal of a shot to lace their sneakers on an NBA court.
While many people fail to realize the importance of the D-League you have to realize that there’s hundreds of basketball players out there that want to make that dream come true, and the D-League is that one stepping stone to make it a reality. One of those hundreds of players out there is Brent Jennings, a 6’4″ guard who’s been clawing for an opportunity ever since he was a young high schooler in Atlanta, Georgia. Unlike many players who go through the AAU system at a young age, Brent didn’t start playing in organized ball until his junior year in high school at South Cobb High. A year later Jennings transferred to Frederick Douglas High in Maryland. There he became a varsity captain and helped lead the team deep into the Maryland State playoffs.
Of course Jennings didn’t get many looks by major college coaches because he really only played one full season of high school ball, so he accepted a full scholarship to attend Faulkner University, a private Christian college in the Atlanta, Georgia area. In 2007 Jennings became an active member of Faulkner after being red-shirted his freshman year, but made the decision to transfer at the end of the season. Jennings received offers from two Division II teams (Jackson State in Mississippi and West Georgia), but during that process he experienced a tragedy as his cousin Kyle Jennings was murdered. Following the tragedy, Jennings decided to attend Southern Poly State in Marietta, Georgia, which is a suburb of his hometown Atlanta to stay close to his family.
After sitting out the 2008-09 season due to eligibility issues with grades and transcript, he went on to become 1 of 3 people to average 16 PPG and became the team’s leading rebounder with 9 RPG which is not bad for a 6’4 player who’s playing out of position as a post player.
After his college career came to an end, Jennings faced a dilemma because he knew he had to change his position because there was absolutely no way he could make it as a 6’4″ post player. With that said, Jennings had trouble finding a pro team because he had no film or really any experience playing the guard position so he started working in Detroit with basketball trainer Tony Leonard where he worked on some of the basics of being a true guard like footwork, spacing, and how to lead a team without shooting.
The first real post-college opportunity that Jennings had was being one of the members of the 2011 Reno Bighorns training camp roster where he reportedly ended up becoming the 11th man on the 10 man roster. “It was all a numbers game,” Jennings told me in an interview. “They liked my game but they really had no idea about me when I came in for a try-out, and it’s really hard for somebody like that to make a D-League roster when the team has all those obligations to their NBA teams.”
After that set back, Jennings made his rounds around the country playing in the WBA (World Basketball League) with the Atlanta Blaze and in the UBA (Ultimate Basketball League) with the Atlanta Assault. Jennings looked like an absolute man against boys while in both semi-pro leagues where he averaged 28 PPG and 5 boards while with the Blaze and 19.2 PPG and 7.4 RPG with the Assault.
With that success in the semi-pros behind him, Jennings went to Idaho in October to try to make his second attempt at making a D-League roster but this time with the Idaho Stampede. Jennings had another solid performance in training camp that even allowed Justin Harper to state that Jennings was a great player/teammate and hard worker who will without a doubt make a team happy. To Jennings’ disarray that team was not the Stampede as he was one of the final cuts which felt way too familiar.
The story of Brent Jennings is all too familiar for players all over the country who work their hearts out to even make it to the D-League because they still believe in that dream that they’ll make it to the NBA. Jennings knows that it’s him against the world right now but also he realizes that that one single word “opportunity” is what he strives for to make that dream of becoming a member of the D-League and the NBA a reality.