Numbers Game

South Plains (Texas) College shooting guard Marshall Henderson watched as Ole Miss closed out the regular season and SEC tournament with five wins in six games.

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The 6-foot-2 Henderson was already considering Ole Miss as the next stop in his college career. However, when the Rebels rebounded from a 15-12 record to finish 20-13, he was sold. He saw a team close to the NCAA tournament but needing pieces.

Henderson committed to Ole Miss Monday afternoon, the third addition to a 2012 recruiting class already including Montverde, Fla., guard Anthony Perez-Cortesia and Memphis, Tenn., guard Martavious Newby.

Henderson has two years to play two.

"Just excited to go to Ole Miss," he said. "I talked to Coach (Andy) Kennedy, and I was just kind of reviewing what they had there. I was able to watch them play here at the end of the season and in the SEC tournament. I know they've got the whole team coming back except for one player. They just missed the (NCAA) tournament; I really wish they'd made it.

"I know they've got everybody coming back, and I feel like the thing they could really use some help on is a shooter. It felt like a real good situation for me. Coach Kennedy, he was the one saying I should be there. From my understanding, they kicked some guys off the team. They needed a two-guard. After watching them play, it felt like the right place to go."

Ole Miss was in need of guards -- and scorers, for that matter -- following the dismissals of guards Dundrecous Nelson and Jamal Jones. Freshman Jelan Kendrick was suspended prior to the SEC tournament. His status with the team is yet to be determined.

Marshall Henderson
Associated Press

Enter Henderson, who scored 32 points in a regional final win over Midland College recently. He made 8 of 15 3-pointers in the game, and is averaging 19.4 points per game for South Plains, including 43 percent from 3 and 88 percent from the free throw line.

"(Kennedy) said they needed someone to come in and shoot the ball," Henderson said. "I know they were bottom of the SEC in 3-point and free-throw percentage. He said that was a point of emphasis they needed to bring in for next year to get to the next level, to the NCAA tournament."

Henderson spent one season at Utah, where he was the second leading scorer for the Utes with 11.8 points per game. He made 65 of 194 3-point attempts, while starting 30 of 31 games. He was an All-Mountain West Honorable Mention selection.

"It's what I've been known for, shooting the 3," he said. "I still take some wild shots, I know, but I've gotten more efficient over the last couple of years. I don't shoot reckless. I've become more focused on making more shots than taking more shots."

He transferred to Texas Tech to play under Pat Knight, sitting out for the 2010-11 season. Upon Knight's dismissal as head coach of the Red Raiders, Henderson moved on to South Plains.

"It's been weird. At Utah, we ran an NBA-style offense. They had me standing in a corner to kind of finish it off. When I went to Tech under Pat Knight, he ran a motion offense to where everyone's setting screens, everyone's handling the ball," Henderson said.

"I was able to really work on other areas of my game under Pat. Coming to South Plains, I was able to put it all into one and see what I can do with the rock."

Henderson plans to arrive in Oxford in the summer. However, he's undecided on whether he'll arrive for the first or second summer term. "I'm so excited," he said of playing in the SEC.

Ole Miss fell a few games short of the NCAA tournament, moving its NCAA tournament drought to 10 years. Henderson said with the core returning, including veteran big men Reginald Buckner and Murphy Holloway, he sees no reason why Ole Miss can't make the field of 68 next season.

"Obviously, I want to make the tournament," he said. "I feel like I can come in and help this team with the core they have returning to where we're really making some noise than worrying about being on the bubble."

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