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Game Changers

From high-octane stadium sports, to cult-status athletics, Atlanta is a powerhouse player.

Atlanta Hawks' John Jenkins

The 22-year-old shooting guard

Learning to Fly
Shooting guard John Jenkins talks about being the newbie in town.

In his first season with the Atlanta Hawks, John Jenkins has laid the foundation to becoming one of the National Basketball League’s most experienced rookies. A native of Nashville, Tenn., Jenkins, 22, was celebrated as a scoring machine, averaging a nation-leading 42 points a game as a high school senior, later becoming the Hawks’ first draft pick, after three stellar years as a Vanderbilt Commodores sharpshooter. Following a short stint with Atlanta’s affiliate National Basketball Development League team in California, the Bakersfield Jam, he was summoned to rejoin the Hawks and become an integral part of their playoff push.

Jenkins is busy acclimating as a professional baller, but it’s interesting to imagine how such a bustling metropolis like Atlanta could potentially be a distraction to someone in his shoes. Wisely, he keeps things simple.

“I like Atlanta,” the 6-foot-4 shooting guard said, after swishing free throws at the Hawks’ practice facility. “It’s only like a 30-minute flight from Nashville, so when I get a break, I have friends and family visit. Plus, I chose to live in Buckhead right in the Gallery [Condominiums], which is close to everything; there are a lot of good restaurants in the area, and the movie theater is right next door. I just saw 42 (Jackie Robinson’s story), which was a great film—the best of the year.”

When it comes to fueling his body, Jenkins might see an endorsement deal from one particular eatery down the line. “Chipotle,” he said without hesitation when asked about his favorite spot for grub. “I eat it like once a day, literally.”

With the NBA postseason under way, Jenkins knows that he will need all the protein and carbs he can get. “The energy level is already higher, even during practice, and I am planning on things being a lot more physical during the playoffs. I am doing my best to prepare for that.”

So what advice would he give to a future NBA rookie? Thinking for a second, he answered, “Come in with an open mind, knowing there are going to be a lot of ups and downs, but the key is to always stay straight and be positive about everything.”

Spoken like a true NBA veteran.

Click here to read more of "Game Changers" in the digital edition of Men's Book Atlanta!