But after watching Henry make his first start Wednesday night and record 11 points and seven rebounds in Arkansas' 74-72 loss, Pelphrey didn't hold back.
"He's doing better," Pelphrey said during his Thursday news conference. "Jason is capable of giving us a lot. He has pretty good height. He chases balls. He's a tremendous talent in terms of ability to score. He has a quick second jump and has a nose for the ball. He's long and has the ability to rebound."
Pelphrey also complimented Henry for his improved attitude toward rehabbing his right knee. Henry missed three other games because of arthroscopic knee surgery, and he limped as he walked to greet reporters Thursday.
"It hurts," said Henry, a 6-foot-6 native of West Memphis. "It hurts bad right now. I just got through rehabbing it. I've got the packs on it, and I'm going to have to do more rehab after practice. I just play through the pain."
The ever-confident Henry, who is averaging 7.7 points and 5.3 rebounds during Southeastern Conference play, sounded excited about the possibility of starting the rest of this season. When asked how he felt about starting Wednesday night, Henry smiled and said, "It's about time."
Junior guard Stefan Welsh said Henry provides a boost with his basketball skills in addition to his energy, sureness and swagger.
"He has a lot of versatility," Welsh said. "He can knock down a 3-pointer, he can rebound, he can cause havoc on defense. If he can continue to do that, it'll just add another element to our team."
Pelphrey admitted Thursday he was sick of seeing his Razorbacks not grab key rebounds. Arkansas grabbed just as many rebounds as LSU in the second half of its loss Saturday in Baton Rouge, La, and outrebounded Tennessee 32-30 on Wednesday night.
But the Hogs couldn't keep LSU's Tasmin Mitchell and Tennessee's Wayne Chism and J.P. Prince from scoring on late putbacks.
"It's a bizarre dynamic," Pelphrey said of the late-game rebounding struggles. "When you get under four minutes, (under) two minutes, there are plays that you can't recover from — offensive rebounds and those types of things."
Freshman guard Rotnei Clarke didn't score for the third time in seven Southeastern Conference games, missing all six of his shots against the Volunteers. He was 0-for-5 in Wednesday's first half and missed the only shot he took after halftime.
All six of his attempts came from 3-point range.
"I thought he had some great looks in the first half. Maybe one was rushed," Pelphrey said. "We're doing a better job of finding him, and I think he's doing a better job of getting himself loose."
Arkansas freshman point guard Courtney Fortson and Tennessee junior point guard Josh Tabb were whistled for technical fouls in Wednesday's first half.
Pelphrey didn't even notice, evidently. He acted surprised when told Thursday that technicals had been called on Fortson and Tabb after the two had a brief physical altercation.
"(The referees) didn't make too big a deal about it," Pelphrey said. "They snuck it by us."
No Monk Update
Pelphrey was asked two questions Thursday about senior forward Marcus Monk, who has missed four straight games because of eligibility issues: Whether the Hogs missed Monk and whether there was an update on his status.
His response was short and straight to the point.
"Yes, we are (missing Monk), and no, there's not (an update)," Pelphrey said.
Arkansas at Mississippi State
When: 2:05 p.m.
Where: Humphrey Coliseum, Starkville, Miss.
TV: KHOG (Cox channel 7, Cox HD channel 707)
Radio: KEZA-FM 107.9, KKEG-FM 92.1, KUOA-AM 1290, FM 105.3
Records: Arkansas Razorbacks, 13-7, 1-6 Southeastern Conference; Mississippi State Bulldogs, 15-7, 5-2
Coaches: Arkansas, John Pelphrey (2nd season); Mississippi State, Rick Stansbury (11th season)
Series: Arkansas leads 26-20 (Mississippi State leads 15-5 in Starkville)
Last Meeting: Mississippi State beat Arkansas 70-56 on Jan. 10 in Fayetteville