Henson's All-Star Tour

Any kid who laces up a pair of high tops dreams of playing in events like the McDonald's All-American Game, the Jordan Brand Classic and the Hoop Summit. During the month of April, future Tar Heel John Henson experienced all three during a whirlwind tour.

Having had some time to reflect on his travels, Henson is thankful for the experience and glad that he put an emphasis on living each event to the fullest. But, the 6-foot-10 senior also admits that time seems to be dragging as he completes his final year of high school.

"These last weeks are going by so slow," Henson said. "We've only got like 13 days left but it's going so slow. I've been making up my work and getting caught up with everything. I'm all good. Now, I'm just ready to be done."

Because of his hectic travel schedule, it wouldn't have been a surprise for Henson to have missed out on many of the normal senior activities. However, as it turned out, he didn't skip a beat.

"I didn't miss anything really," he said. "We have senior night where we go to Disney World and stuff like that. That was right the week I got back and I actually saw Mason (Plumlee) there and chilled with him. Then prom is this weekend so I didn't miss too much."

Of course, even if he had missed out on some senior events, it would have been worth it. In fact, Henson looks at the entire experience as a leading career highlight.

"I enjoyed the whole experience of traveling and being with the top players in the nation," Henson said. "Getting all the gear, the shoes and everything was cool, too. I would describe it as maybe the best three weeks of my life meeting people and playing with the best in the country."

While the Jordan and McDonald's games were more fun and laid back, Henson says that wasn't the case with the Hoops Summit. Playing with the USA across his chest meant much tougher practices and a much more intense game. Losing to a team of players from around the world is something that still bothers him.

"I'm not going to lie, in the back of my mind I was like ‘There's no way that the USA can lose,'" Henson said. "For us to lose, it was like a shock to me. Even afterwards I was like, ‘How can that happen?' That was probably one of the most upsetting times. I knew those guys wanted to beat us so bad. Just to see them throwing up the coach and everything afterwards hurt."

Having gone through it, Henson wonders if maybe his opponents didn't have a little more pride in the event.

"I'm pretty sure that if we would have won it would have been like good job because nobody expects the USA to lose," said Henson. "Whereas, they were like they have to win for pride and stuff like that. It was like everywhere we went, they were sizing us up."

"Like just getting in the elevator with them or something like that. You know how it's rude to stare somebody down here? They didn't care. Everywhere we went they were looking, sizing us up."

Despite the loss, there were still too many enjoyable moments for his experience to be tarnished much. Whether it was joking around in the locker room, cutting up during interviews or seeing the sites, each event was fun. Still, in the middle of all of that fun, Henson counts something a little more serious as the one moment or experience that touched him the most.

"Probably at the McDonald's game going to the Ronald McDonald house," said Henson when asked what one moment stood out to him. "Whether those kids had cancer or some type of rare disease or whatever was wrong for their family, for us to come in there and get their minds off it for a little while really meant a lot. For us to come in there and see them smile, hang with us and eat with us was a great experience. Some of the kids made me things and they are hanging in my room right now."

Along the way, Henson also had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with unsigned senior point guard John Wall. After initially saying that he was doing everything he could to sway Wall to the Tar Heels, Henson realized that maybe he needed to take a different approach with the nation's top unsigned player.

"Everywhere he goes, he's got all of these people asking him stuff about what he's going to do," said Henson of Wall. "Like we went to ESPN and all of these people who don't even know about basketball were asking him stuff and that's crazy. I was his roommate and behind closed doors I felt like I wanted to let him relax and not be bothered. That's what I want behind closed doors."

"You know, I did say a few things like ‘Carolina would be a great fit for him' or things like that. But, mostly I just said that wherever he goes we'd still be cool."

Settled back into the here and now and the drag of his last few weeks of high school, Henson still can't believe his experience. He's happy to have had as much fun as he did, but looking back he already knows that it will likely take years for him to fully appreciate what a special time it was for him.

"I don't really realize it right now, I'm just kind of in the flow of it," said Henson. "I think that whenever my career ends, I'm just going to sit back and realize like ‘Whoa!'

"That's why I try to enjoy what I do and have the most fun with it I can. You never know when it could be taken from you so that's been my motto in all of that."

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