SIGNEE FILES: The emotions and value felt from Kimora Jenkins when inking NLI

Jenkins hasn't visited campus, but the New York native sees UGA as a dream.

ATHENS, Ga. — Kimora Jenkins sat tucked away in her dorm room at the Millbrook School. The temperatures dropped in upstate New York as the hours passed Tuesday evening.

Jenkins had her focus on the clock. She checked the time frequently, because the countdown began to sign her national letter-of-intent with Georgia. She had been committed since May 22, but the moment of pen to paper had its luster.

The Long Island kid can’t wait to feel the Georgia heat. She’s almost a step closer to calling the Peach State a home.

“There are so many emotions, you know?” Jenkins said to the Lady Bulldogs Report on Tuesday. “I’m really anxious to do it. I’ve been excited forever, but it’s so close now. We’re counting the hours and I’m ready.”

Jenkins has her Georgia gear ready. She will ink the paperwork at 3 p.m. and fax it off to Athens. Her family can’t make the trip to attend the ceremonies at the boarding school due to Covid-19 restrictions, but her Millbrook teammates are expected to show up in support.

The moment of finalizing Jenkins’ recruiting process might bring a big exhale to everyone involved. Simply put, the 6-foot guard didn’t have the easiest path to getting noticed. Jenkins had performed strongly on the AAU circuit, according to all of her coaches, but the looks from upper-tier women’s basketball programs weren’t following.

A few schools, namely Hofstra and St. Bonaventure, came calling with scholarships. But Jenkins and those around her wanted more. They knew she had potential to succeed at the Division I level. She knew recruiting stars and a ranking next to her name didn’t hold all of the weight. All she had to do was get eyes on her body of work.

The modern-day answer to such a problem? Easy. Twitter.

Her AAU program, Bria Holmes Elite, posted a video of her highlight reel through February 2020. It circulated around the platform a bit until Georgia assistant coach Chelsea Newton found it. The Lady Bulldogs came away impressed with Jenkins’ multi-faceted belt of skills and took an in-home visit prior to the Covid-19 shutdown to meet their soon-to-be 2021 signee.

The rest was history. It’ll be signed, sealed and delivered Tuesday afternoon. That path is what brings on emotion as Jenkins signs to become a Lady Bulldog. She probably didn’t see it unfolding how it did. After all, she hasn’t been to Athens yet. But there’s adoration for the program.

“I definitely think about (the story of being discovered) all the time,” Jenkins said. “I’m so grateful that happened.”

Even prior to signing, Georgia has already made Jenkins feel like one of their own. That’s a core value of head coach Joni Taylor in recruiting — building relationships and keeping them in tact through graduation. Jenkins’ contact with players and coaches sometimes makes it feel as if she’s already inside the team locker room.

Taylor checks in with Jenkins about once or twice a month, she said. A lot of those messages are videos of Taylor’s two children, Jacie and Drew, which Jenkins said “literally melts my heart.” She also didn’t hesitate to share how the Lady Bulldogs went all-out for a Halloween celebration and were decked out in elaborate costumes.

Some players have already reached out to Jenkins, too, as sort of an early mentor. Georgia freshman guard Sarah Ashlee Barker opened a line of contact for Jenkins. They speak about the college life, the challenges of a day-to-day schedule with academics and basketball and how to get acclimated to playing for the Lady Bulldogs. Barker has learned rather quickly, and isn’t hesitant to share, that conditioning is important ahead of arriving on campus.

“I ask a ton of questions. Thankfully, she doesn't mind,” Jenkins said. “She's allowed me to pick her brain for advice.”

Throughout the signing period, the Lady Bulldogs will officially add their three pledges. Jenkins joins five-star guard Reigan Richardson from North Carolina and overseas product Alina Sendar from the Netherlands. Georgia can also add four-star forward Jillian Hollingshead from McEachern — an uncommitted prospect who plans to announce on Nov. 14.

Jenkins beams with excitement about teaming up with Richardson. The two have kept in contact and finally met back in August when connecting at the Spooky Nook AAU Tournament in Manheim, Pa. Jenkins played scout and watched her future teammate play for Team Curry.

That raised anticipation for the 2021 class coming together and eventually arriving on campus.

“I'm super excited to see guard play. I've seen Reigan play and know what some of the returners can do when I get there,” Jenkins said. “I've never really played with a lot of talented guards. They will be selfless and truly for the team. Their talent is incredible, and I can't wait to see all of the pieces come together.”

Jenkins’ emotions will be riding high for a while. She has waited for this moment. This becomes an opportunity to write her story of the rise from being unnoticed to becoming a guard in the SEC.

She hasn’t been to campus, but already feels as if she has arrived to join the Lady Bulldogs in some ways. Jenkins has taken virtual tours and seen what Georgia has to offer, but she’s “ready to go.”

That’ll all become a reality on Tuesday when the paperwork makes its way to Athens.

“I'm going to be ecstatic. I won't stop smiling,” Jenkins said. “My teeth will probably hurt. Georgia checks every box that I have. It's going to be exactly how I imagine it.”