In the ramp up to the 2010-11 basketball season, Tar Heel Fan will be profiling key Tar Heels who will likely be major contributors this season. Today’s profile looks at forward John Henson.
Weight: 210 lbs
2009-10 and Career Stats: 37 gms, 5.7 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 59 blocks, 48.6 FG%, 43.8 FT%
What Happened Last Season
Like much of what happened with Roy Williams and the Tar Heels, the "John Henson on the wing" experiment was a failure in '09-10. Given Henson's freakish athletic ability and UNC's post depth, the thought was to play the 6-10 Henson on the wing , enabling Williams to put an amazingly big lineup on the floor. But Henson never grasped the complexities of the Carolina system, particularly at the wing forward position, and he languished on the bench until mid-way through the ACC season when injuries and ineffective post play pressed him into action inside. Playing a more natural position, Henson began to flourish and posted four double-figure rebounding games down the stretch while swatting away shots and forcing opponents to account for his long presence in the lane.
Outlook For This Season
UNC's deep frontcourt from last season is now rail-thin, and Henson will by necessity as much as design return to the big forward slot. Henson, along with Tyler Zeller and Justin Knox, will pull yeoman's duty along the Tar Heel front line. He should be able to continue the skills he showed last season of leaping and snagging rebounds while making life miserable for shooters in the lane. Henson will also need to increase his offensive output over last season when he was not asked to score much.
The two main concerns for Henson are his size and his shot. Although Henson put on 20 pounds in the off-season, he still only carries 210 pounds on his 6-10 frame and will not be a banger inside or backing defenders down with his post moves. Likewise, he will not be out-muscling opponents for rebounds either, so he will have to rely on his kangaroo legs and Inspector Gadget-like arms to pull down rebounds. Henson also needs to find a consistent shot as well as develop some range. He was wildly inconsistent last year from beyond five feet and needs to be able to make opponents respect him away from the basket as teams may still try to pack it in against UNC this year.
Also a big concern is his free throw shooting, which was less than 50% last year. That number has to improve or Carolina's opponents will be playing Hack-a-Henson.
11.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 32 min/game, 3 blocks/game, 50% FG, 65% FT
Henson should be Carolina's leading rebounder and like all the post players, should benefit from improved play on the wing. Henson will hopefully be enough of an offensive threat that defenses cannot focus on Zeller and will shoot well enough from the line to make fouling him not worth it.