Shooting guard Marshall Henderson, a transfer to the Ole Miss basketball program by way of South Plains (TX) Junior College (by way of Texas Tech and Utah - yes, Ole Miss is his fourth school in as many years) and the reigning national junior college player of the year, just may be what this Rebel basketball program needs to finally get back to the NCAA tournament. Through two games, his shooting abilities and his infectious attitude have already made themselves evident, as he has quickly jumped into a major contributor role.
Now, am I counting unhatched chickens? Yes. Am I putting the cart before the horse? Absolutely. Am I jumping to conclusions? You betcha, and without a mat! But this is something that I cannot help but ask, and it's, frankly, a more exciting topic than our recent football loss to Vanderbilt, so let's just go with it, alright?
Henderson has started both of this season's games at shooting guard, and is already averaging 24.5 points per game with a fistful of steals and assists to compliment. He is 10-of-11 from the charity stripe and 11-of-24 from beyond the arc, good for 45% from that distance.
His shooting abilities have allowed the Rebels to be a bit more flexible on offense, and have really opened up opportunities for fan-favorite Murphy Holloway underneath the basket, who is averaging a double-double (15 points and 11.5 rebounds) thus far. Last year, as you may recall, the "missing piece" which would have elevated this team from a bubble team to an NCAA tournament participant was some sort of deep shooting threat. Marshall Henderson, so far, seems to be just that and could make this Ole Miss offense both more potent and versatile.
Henderson also brings a bit of a swagger to the court, as evidenced in this somewhat goofy video that they're probably showing on the scoreboard during timeouts and such:
"Who's the best dancer?! I am!" Of course you are, Marshall. Of course you are.
As innocuous as that may seem, it does show the type of attitude this guy has, for better or for worse. Some might say that he's cocky and that his in-your-face type of approach isn't becoming, and perhaps that's true, but it's undeniably something that opposing fans and players will grow to hate as the season progresses, something which I'm perfectly capable of accepting.
And, to parrot Mississippi native Dizzy Dean, "it ain't braggin' if you can do it." If Henderson can keep scoring (and dancing) like he has been thus far, I doubt many Ole Miss fans will take issue with his, um, let's call it "flair." If he can produce, and help get this program back to the NCAA postseason, his cockiness will, to us, be perceived as a powerful confidence, something we all want to see out of our basketballers.