Thursday, November 13, 2008

Meet Joe Henson

(Joe Henson is in the red uniform)

He's no ordinary Joe.

Woodrow Wilson, the 28th President of the United States, counseled that "all things come to him who wait." On the other hand, humorist Will Rogers offered a different take with "even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there."

These sayings, however contradictory, provide advice applicable to college basketball recruiting as ultimately a high schooler or junior college player must make his or her decision. Some linger until the late signing period, deciding after all possible offers have been extended. Others in this most personal of determinations commit during the early timeframe. Count Pasadena High's Joe Henson in the latter category.

The 6-foot-8 Henson has cast his college lot with San Jose State of the Western Athletic Conference (WAC). Here's the why of his decision: "I want to major in business and they have a great business program. The basketball program is getting stronger. Both will serve me well," he said.

He visited the San Jose campus on homecoming weekend -- October 10th and 11th. Henson witnessed the Spartan football team romp 30-7 over Utah State besides exploring the school's academics and meeting his now-to-be teammates.

On the upswing, San Jose State is picked to finish fourth in the WAC this season. Regarding the current SJSU roster, the 'bigs' are 6-foot-9 C.J. Webster and 6-foot-10 Chris Oakes -- both are starters and will be seniors once Henson arrives next year. 6-foot-9 Oliver Caballero will be a junior with 6-foot-10 Clint Amberry (Los Alamitos High) a sophomore. The opportunity for major playing time may not be immediate but certainly available for the taking by Henson's second season.

Tim Tucker, Henson's coach at Pasadena High, is an alumni of the school having graduated in the late 70's. He sings the praises of his senior: "Joe is a high major player and a great steal for San Jose State. He has soft hands, good moves in the post but also has a 10-15-foot jumper away from the hoop. Plus, he's a great shotblocker."

Now coaches generally offer sweet talk about their players but Tucker has the bonafides to back up his evaluation. He's been at Pasadena going on 15 years and sent eight players on to the D-1 level, the latest being Keion Bell who signed with Pepperdine last year. Tucker played college ball at Wyoming before transferring to Westmont (Santa Barbara) his final two years. He has also coached in the junior college ranks and at Cal State San Bernardino.

Henson suffered a hip injury between his sophomore and junior seasons and underwent surgery. Being away from the 'circuit' for any period of time can often cause a player to disappear from the consciousness of recruiters. To some degree, that was the case with Henson.

Here's Tucker again: "Joe's hip surgery caused a lot of people to drop on him. But lately PAC-10 schools have been calling, wanting to get all over him."

However, these schools wanted to wait on offers until the April 2009 signing period and that wasn't part of the Henson plan.

Henson offered this on his temporary setback: "I felt some irritation [in the hip] but kept playing on it. Then I got hit there in a summer league game and that stopped me. It [the injury] shook me up a bit" as any injury of that magnitude would.

He went through a five month rehabilitation and recovery period but many months have passed and he's now as good as new. Henson said, "The coaching staff at San Jose State stuck with me the whole time" which is another reason he returned the loyalty.

Writer and commentator Ben Stein is credited with saying "The indispensable first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want."

Joe Henson has decided to be a Spartan.

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