Henry com­mits to Hok­ies, dreams of play­ing in NBA

The Covington News - - SPORTS - SHA­KEEM HOL­LOWAY shol­loway@cov­news.com

In the eighth grade Shane Henry wrote that he wanted to play shoot­ing guard for the Mi­ami Heat. He was just 5-foot7 then, but he’s 6-foot-8 now and a step closer to his child­hood dream.

Henry re­cently an­nounced that he com­mit­ted to play bas­ket­ball at Vir­ginia Tech af­ter fin­ish­ing up classes and get­ting his as­so­ciate’s de­gree at Ge­or­gia Perime­ter Col­lege this sum­mer. Now that he’s in what is ar­guably the SEC of col­lege bas­ket­ball, Henry can get the ex­po­sure he needs if he’s go­ing to make it big. The fu­ture is promis­ing, but it was Henry’s past that paved the way for his present suc­cess.

As a fresh­man in high school Henry didn’t get much play­ing time on the fresh­men team, but he made the team, which you think would tran­si­tion to him mak­ing it as a sopho­more. Wrong. Henry didn’t make the team as a sopho­more, but they of­fered him a po­si­tion as the JV team man­ager.

“Af­ter be­ing cut from my ju­nior var­sity team they of­fered me to be the man­ager just to stay around the team,” Henry said. “Re­ally I thought that was just a char­ity thing for the coach to of­fer me, but I took ad­van­tage of it. I took ad­van­tage of be­ing around the team and still be­ing around bas­ket­ball. Not giv­ing up on my­self and my dream, just re­ally prov­ing people wrong. And I’m still try­ing to do that to this day.”

It’s prob­a­bly safe to say Henry has at least proved a few people wrong. He went from team man­ager to var­sity to com­mu­nity col­lege and now to an ACC pow­er­house, all with the sup­port of New­ton head bas­ket­ball coach Rick Ras­mussen.

“He to­tally de­vel­oped in our pro­gram,” Ras­mussen said. “He went from be­ing on the fresh­man team as a lit­tle fresh­man. He hadn’t hit his growth spurt yet. He didn’t play that much. And then his sopho­more year he was the JV man­ager be­cause he re­ally didn’t make the team, but we let him prac­tice and he got bet­ter. By the end of the year we played him in a cou­ple games.”

“It’s an in­cred­i­ble story that he went from be­ing the JV man­ager in his sopho­more year to mak­ing our var­sity.”

Af­ter play­ing in a cou­ple of games at the end of his sopho­more sea­son, Henry prac­ticed hard in the sum­mer, work­ing out at the rec ev­ery day. He didn’t play sum­mer ball with the team – he just worked on his game.

Henry could have rested on his lau­rels or even trans­ferred to Al­covy when the county cre­ated new zon­ing for the schools, but he came back for his ju­nior year and left an im­pres­sion on his coach.

“We were like, ‘Oh my gosh,’” Ras­mussen said.

“He’s grown like three or four inches. He’s re­ally ath­letic. We were like, man. I looked at one of my as­sis­tants and I said, ‘You know what? Shane’s go­ing to be a col­lege player.’”

Years later, Ras­mussen’s tune has gone up a notch.

“I re­ally think with Shane’s abil­ity and his hard work, Shane does have a chance to play pro­fes­sion­ally,” Ras­mussen said. “Shane is an ex­tremely hard worker.”

Henry is headed to Vir­ginia Tech be­cause he worked his butt off. His per­sis­tent de­ter­mi­na­tion and work ethic par­al­lels how he plays the game of bas­ket­ball.

Henry de­scribed his style of play as, “Be­ing pre­dom­i­nantly a shot-blocker, a re­bounder and play­ing de­fense. Pro­duc­ing of­fense when I can and when the op­por­tu­nity pre­sents it­self,” Henry said. “I just want to give the team an edge on de­fense so once we play de­fense the of­fense will come easy.”

That’s the type of player Vir­ginia Tech is get­ting. Hok­ies head coach Buzz Wil­liams has al­ready talked to Henry about plans he has for him.

“He told me that I will be play­ing the four,” Henry said. “He hasn’t given me any­thing to work on yet, but he will be do­ing that soon when they send out some weight books and skill work to do. I know I’ll be work­ing at the top of the key, han­dling the ball more and just try­ing to be ef­fec­tive mak­ing mis­matches.”

“I would like to get stronger this sum­mer so I’m go­ing to stay in the weight room as much as pos­si­ble. My ball han­dling, my shoot­ing and just be­ing re­ally con­sis­tent,” Henry said.

As a JUCO player tran­si­tion­ing to fouryear col­lege ball, Henry couldn’t have landed in a bet­ter spot. Wil­liams has a his­tory of de­vel­op­ing JUCO play­ers into NBA ma­te­rial. In re­cent times he has turned the likes of Jimmy But­ler, Jae Crow­der and Dar­ius John­son-Odom into solid play­ers in the NBA.

“Buzz is re­ally known for de­vel­op­ing ju­nior col­lege guys in their two years left. So an in­ter­est­ing thing for me will be if they de­cide to red­shirt him or will they play him right away,” Ras­mussen said. “If they red­shirt him he’ll be able to de­velop even more and if they de­cide to go ahead and play him right away, I think he’ll be fine.”

“From my knowl­edge, Buzz runs an up and down style. He re­ally gets up and down the court and I think that would be great for Shane to be able to use his ath­leti­cism. Open op­por­tu­ni­ties at the bas­ket are all monster dunks from Shane be­cause he plays above the rim so much. He’s so ath­letic and long.”

Shane was be­ing heav­ily re­cruited at GPC, but for him it came down to two schools: Vir­ginia Tech and Texas Tech. In­evitably it was the cam­pus and Wil­liams, as the de­cid­ing fac­tors in Henry’s de­ci­sion.

“It was the cam­pus – it was re­ally homey – and the coaches,” Henry said. “One of the coaches had been re­cruit­ing me since the sum­mer, so we had a good re­la­tion­ship. Buzz Wil­liams is just a standup guy and he gives ev­ery­thing straight for­ward. And I like that about him.”

Henry is hold­ing on to his dream of play­ing shoot­ing guard for Mi­ami, which he’s root­ing for in the NBA Fi­nals. “I’m stick­ing to it,” he said.

“If he plays two years at Vir­ginia Tech, he’ll get ex­po­sure and he’s such a worker I think he’ll def­i­nitely play [pro­fes­sion­ally],” Ras­mussen said con­fi­dently. “Whether it’s over­seas or NBDL or NBA. I think he’ll def­i­nitely get an op­por­tu­nity be­cause there aren’t many guys with his link and ath­leti­cism and that com­bi­na­tion is re­ally, re­ally good.”

Sub­mit­ted photo /The Cov­ing­ton News

Shane Henry, for­mer New­ton High School star, has com­mit­ted to play­ing bas­ket­ball at Vir­ginia Tech. Henry be­comes New­ton head coach Rick Ras­mussen’s first player to play in the ACC. Henry will start at Vir­ginia Tech in the fall af­ter re­ceiv­ing his as­so­ciate’s de­gree from Ge­or­gia Perime­ter Col­lege.

Sub­mit­ted photo/The Cov­ing­ton News

Sub­mit­ted photo /The Cov­ing­ton News

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