Tuesday, March 22, 2011

John Henson Is Skying High Over Opponents In The NCAA Tournament

Henson's strong season has scouts believing
his game will continue to grow in the NBA.
A strong campaign in the NCAA tournament will give John Henson's draft stock a huge boost.  

John Henson has been on NBA scout's radar since his freshman year at North Carolina.  He entered his sophomore season with a lot of questions to answer.  One thing that scouts wanted to see was an improved offensive game,  Henson needed to show that he could take over game the way his athleticism suggests he could. He also needed to display his defensive ability on a nightly basis to show consistency.

The Tar Heels got off to a bumpy start at the beginning of the season, but pulled it together at the beginning of ACC play.  Henson has been consistently excellent on the defensive end.  During the entire season Henson averaged 10 rebounds and 3 blocks per game.  He showed that he has the IQ, athleticism, and continuity to be a solid defensive contributer every night.

His offensive game, however, still needs some fine tuning.  He averaged 12 points per game, but most of these were off of put backs and dunks.  He did not show the same improvement on the offensive end that he did on the defensive end, and the lack of an offensive repertoire could hurt him on draft night.

Henson has been consistently talked about as a lottery pick, says Chad Ford, because of his motor, rebounding and shot blocking.  He  has been successful in showing all of these skills, and at times he looks like the best player on the floor during tar heel games.  2 games into the tournament it looks like he may have shown the beginning to an offensive game.  In his first game, albeit against Long Island, he scored 28 points off of 10-16 from the field and 8-10 from the line.  He also threw in 11 rebounds and had a whopping 6 blocks.  That is the kind of offensive effort that leads to the scout's impressions of the potential that Henson has.

In his second game against a more athletic Washington team, Henson struggled a bit, but was still able to put up 10 points, grab 10 rebounds, and record 4 blocks.  In this game he showed that he needs to add strength and weight to dominate more athletic opponents.  This has been a consistent knock on Henson, so whichever team drafts him will surely have him meeting with their strength and endurance coaches quite often.

If Henson keeps up this great play throughout the tournament it could push his stock even higher.  Right now I think he could end up in the late lottery to the mid first round, but if he keeps playing at this high level he could crack the top ten.  He is a tweener between small forward and power forward, so he will have to figure out what he is most successful at.  I think his top priority should be adding strength, followed closely by the need to improve his mid range jumper.  If he improves in these areas he reminds me a lot of Tayshaun Prince with better overall athleticism, that would be a scary combination for anyone being defended by him.

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