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Henderson has bigger issues than just playing

COLUMN: It has become painfully obvious that Marshall Henderson has bigger problems than just getting into a rhythm shooting the ball during a game or garnering a steal on defense. 

He has real-life issues he has to work out for himself. There are just too many demons of the past that have never left him.

It’s hard for me to believe in Henderson right now. It’s hard to believe he can ever be that leader he talked about in his letter to the Ole Miss fanbase back in April. Henderson can’t say he’s holding himself to a higher standard and then a month later, get stopped by police officers for speeding, and forfeiting drugs during the stop and not having basic liability insurance.

Even if Henderson has had three or four minor brushes with the law here, it’s hard to look the other way when you mix drugs and cops and cars together. That’s a long-term recipe for disaster.

You can’t be a better leader when you’re indefinitely suspended because of failed drug tests either. It’s hard to write that he should be allowed back from that suspension, not when you really start to look into how Henderson has behaved in Oxford despite great support from the administration, team and fans.

Ole Miss fans have really embraced Henderson despite his episodes on and off the court. There hasn’t been another player, in any sport, that has had the opportunity to embarrass the fans and school as much as Henderson in recent memory but the fans, for the most part, have been understanding.

The fans have been defensive of Henderson when the rest of the SEC and nation want to call him names or blast his character on social media. They have been patient and hopeful that Henderson would finally drop all of his baggage and just play ball. Despite all the hope, it’s apparent that Henderson may never be able to be the player the administration and coaching staff wanted of him.

Even if Henderson’s teammates understand his personality — Aaron Jones described Henderson as being “a little crazy but better” during an interview last month — there is a point where things ring hollow. This is one of those times. Henderson should have never responded to his suspension in the matter he did.

He can’t appear in a video with linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche and make light of the situation. And while I think Erin Andrews was very unprofessional to scold and chide Henderson publicly on Twitter, he can’t respond back. Those type of responses were supposed to be behind Henderson, not still part of his daily routine.

Some may say that it’s expecting a lot of Henderson to be a better leader, citizen, et cetera overnight, but you can’t take on the responsibility like he has wanted to and continue to pull the stuff he has recently either.

Henderson has to be more sincere or at least go longer than a month in between in between incidents.

I don’t think that’s asking for too much.

A person who actually changes is the one who actually takes steps to change and Henderson has failed to do that. Otherwise his name wouldn’t be in the paper in early July, months from the start of the basketball season.

I’m wouldn’t let Henderson play again Ole Miss. Again, he has a lot of things he needs to work out before he can return and that’s a lot more important than playing basketball. His health, his general well being as a person is more important than helping the Rebels win games.

Of course the ultimate decision to let Henderson back is not up to me. Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork, Chancellor Dan Jones and coach Andy Kennedy are really the only ones who are going to make that final decision. Hopefully the next month, or couple of months, will produce favorable results that allow them to make a tough decision easier. I don’t envy their position, but Henderson has forced their hand, once and for all, which is one of the saddest parts of this whole story.

 (July 12, 2013, Page 6A)

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