Cardinal preview: Tim Henderson

Cardinal Authority will be featuring the players on the University of Louisville men's basketball roster this week. First up is junior Tim Henderson, who is a walk-on guard that Rick Pitino called the "most improved player" on the roster.

Tim Henderson came to the University of Louisville as a walk-on from Christian Academy, hoping to see a little time on the floor.

Now, heading into his junior season Henderson has not only found time on the floor but received a strong statement from coach Rick Pitino.

"He's the most improved player on our team," Pitino said. "It's startling how hard he has worked and how much better he is."

The 6-foot-2 Henderson still likely won't see a lot of minutes because of the depth of the U of L roster, but Pitino said "I am not afraid to play him."

"I have put in a lot of time and effort and I think that's finally paying off," Henderson said. "A lot of it for me is just having the confidence to go out there and do it. In the past, I was afraid to make a mistake.

"Now, I feel comfortable and I feel like I belong."

An All-Seventh Region performer at Christian Academy, Henderson averaged 16.2 points and eight rebounds a game as a senior. His father, Jeff, was a swimmer at U of L and his mother, Beth, played tennis for the Cardinals.

Henderson said he was "so thankful" for the opportunity to walk-on at U of L, but also noted it took "a long time" for him to get adjusted.

As a freshman, he saw limited action in 18 games and had 17 points and 11 rebounds. He played in 11 games last season, scoring 14 points.

Henderson's career high was five points against Fairleigh Dickenson last season, grabbing three rebounds in two different games.

"It takes a while to get ready," Henderson said. "It took me a good year and a half to physically be ready. It really makes a difference when you are physically ready and go through all of the training."

Henderson said now that he's physically up-to-par and has been in the program for two years, he spent the offseason "working really hard to just get better."

"He's really improved his jump shot," Pitino said. "And he's confident now. He probably still won't play a lot of minutes. But if we would have an injury, then he's more than ready to step in and play well."

Henderson said he has been working as a backup point guard in practice but also noted he can play the two-guard spot.

"I am starting to get used to the back up one right now, getting a feel for that," Henderson said. "If he puts me in to give Peyton (Siva) just two minutes, or five minutes, I am OK with that, or if need be give Russ a break.

"I am just willing to go out there and do what I can to help the team. I feel ready and confident that I can go out there and contribute if I am asked."

Henderson is not the only one confident in his abilities. Pitino and several teammates believe he can help the Cardinals' if he's needed.

"Tim is just a hard-nosed player," senior guard Peyton Siva said. "He pushes us so hard every day that you kind of forget he's a walk-on."

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