Henry Loses Weight To Help Gain Playing Time

The Fighting Illini basketball team has six freshmen vying for playing time. Each brings something different to the team. Myke Henry is a scorer. The Chicago Orr product can post up, and he can hit the three. He will eventually have a big impact on Illini success. He still needs to learn the system and develop a defensive mindset.

Myke Henry burst on the scene halfway through his junior year at Chicago Orr High School. Illinois coaches noticed his shooting ability and were intrigued. Bruce Weber shares what he likes about Henry's game.

"Myke Henry is a little different, he's a scorer. He can come off screens, he can jump up and make shots."

However, the transition to college has taken Henry longer than he anticipated. He was especially frustrated by his performance with the Illini in Italy this summer.

"Yeah it did because I'm used to scoring. I guess it was just nerves and getting a feel for it, but now I'm getting better."

If there is a direct relationship between confidence level and shooting, Henry is the most confident Illini freshman. He rarely sees a shot he doesn't like.

"It's just confidence. You've got to be confident your shot will go in every time. I have to get used to the playing environment, but I see it happening now. I guess I've been coming along slowly, but I'm almost there."

Henry probably expected to take college by storm, but everyone must undergo a major adjustment.

"It's a big transition. You've got to learn how they play, and they have to learn how you play."

The 6'-5" shooting guard bulked up for college, but he discovered the extra weight slowed him down. He has been working hard with trainer Jimmy Price to get in top shape.

"I lost 22 pounds. I feel quicker, and my defense is getting better. I was always strong, but I'm stronger now."

Henry brought a reputation for taking plays off on defense, so hopefully better conditioning will allow him to work hard on both ends of the court.

"I think my defense has improved since I've been here. They've been pushing me to have a defensive mindset. It's just effort."

Henry appears to enjoy playing pressure defense 94 feet. It is familiar to him, and he sees the rewards possible.

"I think I'm used to it because with the Fire (AAU team), we pressed a lot. So my body's kind of used to it. I enjoy it. You get more chances to score in transition."

Orr used Henry to post up frequently, so power forward might be an option.

"I could play there if they need me to."

But the Illini are using him primarily as a small forward on the wing. Improving ball handling will be important for Henry as he learns the position. Is playing on the outside tougher for him?

"I don't think it's tougher. It's just all about me, how much I put forth. I think the biggest thing is handling the ball more. They're making me work a little extra on my ball handling. It's improving."

It may take awhile for Henry to see significant playing time. But once he learns the complexities of offense and defense, his shooting skill should be a great help to the Illini.

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