When NC State's season was over, Terry Henderson knew he had a decision to make. He averaged 13.8 points per game in his redshirt-senior year but the team failed to meet expectations, struggling throughout the regular season before losing to Clemson in the 2017 ACC Tournament.
Henderson could pursue professional opportunities or he could apply for an additional year of eligibility because he only played one game -- seven minutes to be exact -- in 2015-2016 before a foot injury sidelined him for the season.
Complicating matters for Henderson was a coaching change at NC State that left him having to learn a different system and develop a relationship with a new coaching staff.
"I felt the last game of the season when we lost to Clemson in the ACC Tournament, it left a sour taste in my mouth," Henderson said. "Ever since then I wanted revenge. When I found out Keatts was coming in to the program I was excited because I knew what kind of a coach he was. I knew all about him. Any kid would be lucky to play for him, and I knew he'd do a great job here at State, so at that point my decision was made.
"I was hoping to play in his system and coming back with the other guys I felt we could try and run through the ACC... make the NCAA Tournament, really have the year everyone thought we'd have last year. That's what I wanted. I didn't care about going pro. I just wanted to win here at NC State so I knew I was going to apply for a sixth year."
Henderson had to file a request for an extra year of eligibility from the NCAA, and those are always risky because they are essentially subjective decisions. He played two seasons at West Virginia before sitting out at NC State, prior to the lost year of 2015-2016. His hope was his circumstances and the results of similar cases across the country would lead to an approval from the NCAA.
However, on Friday he received the news he didn't want to hear. The request was denied and his college career was over.
"When the news came back, it was devastating because I can't compete in the ACC anymore," Henderson said. "I was told by the coaching staff and our AD. We weren't given a reason why I was denied. I don't know why it was denied. The NCAA doesn't come back and say, 'We're going to deny you and this is why.' They just give you the ruling. I wish I had a direct contact so I could find out the actual reasons. Maybe they didn't have a reason and just didn't want to grant it.
"When you look at the other players and scenarios where guys were granted the extra year... there was a guy who was pretty much in the same situation as me and he got his granted. I feel frustrated and upset but I won't let it impact me as a person or my future. I'm going to hold my head high and move on."
Now Henderson goes from preparing for a sixth season in college to playing catch-up in terms of his professional opportunities. Pursuing the extra year prevented him from working in pre-draft workouts, talking with NBA teams, receiving feedback or signing with an agent. Doing those things will now be his focus.
"I've been talking with a couple of agents," Henderson said. "I've already been working out and making sure my body is in the best shape possible. I wanted to stay on top of everything I had to do, so I think I'm there physically. I'll probably look to sign with an agent pretty soon so I can get that started... finding out my next destination."
Because he's been going through workouts, Henderson was able to give an in-depth look at the coaching staff and how players are adapting to the changes within the program.
"I feel Keatts is going to do a great job," Henderson said. "Look at what all he's done... he's always been successful. I truly believe Wolfpack Nation is in good hands. We still have some recruiting to do, but I'm pretty sure Keatts is out there looking for more guys.
"I think Markell Johnson will be the breakout player for State next year. Under Keatts and in that system, he should be great because he's so dynamic with the basketball and loves playing fast. It's a great fit for him. He'll create for others and make plays... I was excited to come back and play with him because we have a great relationship and I know what he's capable of. Torin Dorn has been playing well too. Malik [Abu] is also doing well, and I think Lennard Freeman will be an excellent addition because he'll do the dirty work and make the hustle plays you need to win big."
Staying on campus also enabled Henderson to finish up business academically. Recently he earned his degree from NC State, which he is extremely proud of.
"The degree means a lot, especially when you realize how prestigious the school is and the connections NC State has to offer," Henderson said. "The lifetime relationships I've built since I've been here will forever be with me. It's been a great ride, and I was able to get my degree. When I walked across the stage it hit me that I was a college graduate... I never thought I'd see that. It was a big deal for me personally. I'm excited and proud to be an alumnus of NC State. I'll be able to take that with me wherever I go."