Marshall Henderson has still not spoken to the media since he was suspended on July 10th, but his head coach Andy Kennedy has taken multiple opportunities to publicly support his best player.
Henderson was one of the most polarizing players in the country during the 2012-13 season. He averaged 20.1 points for a team that won the SEC tournament, but he also found himself making headlines for things outside of basketball: drinking, run-ins with the law, social media exploits, an explosive personality on the court.
He was suspended indefinitely from the team, and while it’s unknown just how many games he’ll end up missing — Kennedy said that will be Ole Miss AD Ross Bjork’s call — Henderson has returned to practice and, according to Kennedy, he’s been a model teammate.
“Marshall’s play has not changed,” Kennedy told USA Today’s Hugh Kellenberger. “Again when you see him today he’s the same guy from an emotional standpoint, from an energy standpoint. He’s taken a leadership role as it relates to he’s always going to be the way that he is when it relates to passion and being engaged and being on that edge from a position standpoint. The thing that I’ve been the most proud about is that he’s winning the sprints at the end, he’s encouraging the young guys when they make mistakes.”
That’s not a surprise, as Kennedy has always lauded Henderson’s ability as a teammate and a leader to the media.
What was interesting, however, was that Kennedy tried to downplay the severity of what got Henderson suspended.
“As is typical with Marshall things get sensationalized, quite frankly,” Kennedy said. “There have been a lot of different speculation and based on his rights and based on respect for those rights, we can’t delve into anything. But here’s a kid though that has not been arrested, knock on wood, and has certainly owned some of his mistakes. He was suspended for an internal matter. It wasn’t something that we had to involve authorities outside of our roof, and we’ll deal with it internally.”
He’s right. Henderson is a sparkplug. He draws attention to himself, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But when the attention you get is a result of wild (and, at times, hilarious) trash-talking on the court and routinely being photographed drinking, past issues with drugs and a weekly party known as #WhiteGirlWednesday off the court, the legend grows.
If Henderson didn’t embrace the persona, if he didn’t build his brand about The Fratboy Ideal, his transgressions wouldn’t be as scrutinized.
So does it surprise you that part of Kennedy’s punishment for Henderson has been no more twitter?