I recognize that Ole Miss is in the midst of a very fun season and that wild hypotheticals are more suited for the doldrums of the offseason, but I think this is an interesting thought experiment: if Marshall Henderson had just left Utah and expressed interest in Ole Miss, would new Rebel head coach Kermit Davis pursue him?
This isn’t a question of whether Henderson, who still holds the SEC single-season three-point record, was “good enough.” There’s no denying that he was a dangerous volume scorer who helped carry Ole Miss to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. I think this question really comes down to two separate subquestions.
First, does a player with Henderson’s skillset and style of play fit on a Davis-coached team?
Second, would Davis be willing to put up with Henderson’s antics, and how long would his leash be off the court?
Davis isn’t really looking for someone to shoot 12 threes a night.
Henderson was an offensive dynamo when he was on, but it’s easy to forget that he wasn’t always on. In Henderson’s junior season, when the team made the NCAA tournament, he connected on just 35 percent of the threes he shot. To put that in perspective, current Rebels Breein Tyree, Terence Davis, Devontae Shuler and Blake Hinson are all making threes at a better clip this season.
Marshall could score a ton at times and there’s certainly a place for that on the court. There’s also the chance that a more disciplined approach to offense might have lead Henderson to attempt fewer contested threes and only shoot them when he really had a good look. Consider the case of Terence Davis, who’s effective field goal percentage has jumped nearly 10 percentage points over last season (48 to 58) thanks in part to better shot selection. Conversely, I’m not sure Henderson would effectively make that transition. He seemed like a guy who really needed to take his shots; a true volume scorer, in 2013 he attempted 87 more three-balls than any player in SEC history.
That’s not Kermit Davis’ style of play. Just 37.6 percent of his current team’s attempts have come from beyond the arc this season, which ranks 205th nationally.
Henderson also wasn’t a very good defensive player, though I think that’s a bit overplayed at times. He was still active, generating over a steal per game during each of his two years in Oxford, but with what Davis asks of his guards defensively, it might be hard for Henderson to make things work.
Still, the way this team needs guards, it would be tough to turn Henderson down.
Then there’s all the stuff surrounding Henderson.
Two weeks ago in Starkville, Kermit Davis seemed to be legitimately angry and embarrassed by the fact that his team notched three technical fouls. That doesn’t lend credence to the idea that Henderson’s gator chomping and jersey popping would have gone over too well.
Davis is seen as a disciplinarian of sorts, though I can’t say for sure whether that image is appropriate or not, given we haven’t seen him have to deal with anything in his short stint in Oxford. Given the short leash he has put on some of our star players at times this season, even when there is little to no depth on the team, I just don’t think he would put up with Henderson’s antics. That, combined with what could be a poor fit schematically, makes me think Davis would probably choose to sit back and let Henderson go elsewhere.
What do y’all think? Leave it in the comments.