Outside shooting and scoring points overall has been a struggle for the Ole Miss Rebels this season. The inability to consistently hit 3-point shots, make free throws and score in the open court may be a thing of the past for the Rebels, however, if shooting guard Marshall Henderson is able to continue to do what he has done at South Plains College and the University of Utah before.
The Rebels picked up an important commitment for the upcoming spring signing class Monday when the Hurst, Texas., native decided he wanted to play under Andy Kennedy and in the Southeastern Conference.
The 6-foot-2 Henderson started his college career at Utah and was named All-Mountain West Honorable Mention by averaging 11.6 points per game as a freshman. He made 65 of 194 (33.5 percent) 3-pointers and started 30 of 31 games at Utah before transferring to Texas Tech to play under former coach Pat Knight. When Knight wasn’t retained, Henderson found sanctuary 25 miles west at South Plains where he has helped lead the Texans to a 32-0 mark, a spot in the upcoming NJCAA National Tournament and a No. 1 ranking.
South Plains assistant coach Hank Plona said Henderson, who leads South Plains with a 20 points per game average, is a tremendous shooter.
“He’s been our leading scorer this year and he can really do it all but the thing that he does the best is shoot the ball from 3-point range,” Plona said. “He shoots it off the dribble, he shoots it off the catch. He’s one of the best shooters I’ve ever coached. He is a guy that can get the ball in any situation, whether it’s in transition, whether he’s coming off a down screen, whether it’s with the ball in his hand and he pulls up. Anywhere within 25 feet and in, when he rises up to shoot, we think it’s going in.”
Henderson is an efficient shooter. His shooting percentage is in the high 40s, Plona said, where most guards are typically in the high 30s.
“He probably takes some shots that most would consider bad shots but he practices them. He works really hard on his shot and he takes a lot of pride in it. He is at the point where it’s starting to pay off for him because he has been so effective,” Plona said. “We won our region championship Sunday and he was 8-for-15 from 3. He was getting face-guarded, he was the primary target of the other team’s defense and still found a way to get off 15 3s and made eight which is a pretty good clip. He effects the game in a lot of different ways, but (outside shooting) is what he does the best. The other team is forced to guard him all over the floor. They can never give him any room which can open up the middle for your big guys or for guys to drive.”
Plona added that Henderson has been a good leader for a team that is stacked with talent and boasts three players from Baltimore and one from Brooklyn, New York.
“Marshall is a guy that brings it every day. Marshall is a major reason why we haven’t been stagnant or complacent in any games. It doesn’t matter if we’re playing one of the best teams in the country or a middle-of-the-road team from our league, Marshall is ready to play every game,” Plona said. “His enthusiasm to play every single day is really something our guys feed off and it’s helped us to get where we are.”
Plona said Henderson has a high basketball IQ which makes him better as a passer in the halfcourt and on defense where he lacks some vertical speed.
“He makes other guys better and he really does it in the halfcourt. If he were to come off a screen and the defense is extended on him, then he’s going to make the right play and pass it to the big men or he’s going to drive and attack the lane and kick it out and get a couple of assists that way,” Plona said. “In our semifinal win, he had six assists against New Mexico Junior College. He gets most of those in the halfcourt because if he’s dribbling up the ball in transition and nobody is on him, he’s going to pull up and shoot. He is certainly more of a scoring guard than a point guard but he can handle the ball. He is guarded tightly each game and he doesn’t turn the ball over.
“He can guard (on defense). He is not the quickest guy laterally but he is such a smart player that he makes up for it. He anticipates. He will run through a pass and get a dunk every game,” Plona added. “He understands the game so well we’ll go over the game plan and he understands what the other team is trying to do and he picks out where he’s going to beat his man to get a steal. His basketball IQ is so good that he can make up for any of lack of quickness.”
Signing in April
The goal for Henderson, according to Plona, is to sign with Ole Miss on April 11, the first day junior college players can make their commitments official. Plona said that Ole Miss got on Henderson shortly after Dundrecous Nelson was released from the team. Ole Miss assistant coach Al Pinkins first came to watch South Plains take on Midland on Jan. 16 and since then Kennedy has been handling his recruiting.
“They did a really good job with him. Coach Pinkins showed a lot of interest after that first game and he told Coach Kennedy about him and Coach Kennedy got in touch with us right away and flew out to see him that following week,” Plona said. “Coach Kennedy did a really good job of developing a relationship with both Marshall and his family. I think it meant a lot to Marshall that Coach Kennedy recruited him directly, that it wasn’t an assistant coach just calling to check up on him. Coach Kennedy came out, they talked for a while when he was here and I think they both feel comfortable with one another. I know they offered him quick and I think Marshall is impressed that he was their priority.”
Henderson is Ole Miss’ first commitment of the spring semester that will count towards its 2012 signing class.
Henderson joins Memphis guard Martavious Newby and Venezuelan power forward Anthony Cortesia.
Rivals.com considered Henderson a three-star shooting guard when he signed with Utah in 2009.
Once at Ole Miss in the fall, Henderson will have two years to play two. (March 13, 2012, Page 7)