La Salle's tall task: Stop Mississippi's Marshall Henderson

La Salle's Jerrell Wright,Tyrone Garland and Tyreek Dunn relax in the locker room before practice at Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO. on Saturday, March 23, 2013 (Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer)
La Salle's Jerrell Wright,Tyrone Garland and Tyreek Dunn relax in the locker room before practice at Sprint Center in Kansas City, MO. on Saturday, March 23, 2013 (Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer)
Posted: March 24, 2013

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - La Salle is one win away from an improbable berth in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA tournament, and standing in the way could be a person who certainly knows how to draw attention, even from the greatest basketball player on the planet.

When No. 13-seeded La Salle (23-9) meets No. 12-seeded Mississippi (27-8) in Sunday's 7:40 p.m. West Regional third-round game at the Sprint Center, the Explorers will have to stop the Rebels' potent inside game. But junior guard Marshall Henderson will occupy a prominent part of the scouting report.

He will certainly be followed closely by his growing social media contingent, where he has nearly 60,000 followers on @nativeflash22.

Henderson has traveled a rocky path, having attended four colleges and having endured his brushes with the law. But in his first season at Ole Miss is averaging 20 points a game (best in the Southeastern Conference).

Henderson never met a shot he didn't like and when he makes them often gestures to the crowd. In Friday's 57-46 win over Wisconsin, the 6-foot-2, 175-pound Henderson hit 1 of his first 13 shots but closed out by making 5 of his final 8.

When asked if he thinks there is a difference between a good and bad shot, Henderson replied, "Other people judge whether it is a good or bad shot, I think every shot is a good shot."

His no-conscience mentality even drew the social media attention of LeBron James, who tweeted, "Man that dude Henderson from Ol Miss got the greenest light in basketball history!! Hahaha."

Even Henderson was impressed with that

"That is cool, you are able to catch somebody's attention like that," he said.

While the 6-7, 240-pound Holloway and bruising 6-9, 235-pound Reginald Buckner will give La Salle all it can handle down low, Henderson clearly has the Explorers' attention.

"He has a quick release, unlimited range," La Salle coach John Giannini said. "So yeah, you have to be vigilant, you have to be focused."

Henerson has connected on 134 of 379 three point attempts (35.4 percent).

"You can't get screened," Giannini said. "It's not an easy task."

Just as it hasn't been an easy life.

Henderson averaged 11.8 points during the 2009-10 season as a freshman at the University of Utah but transferred to Texas Tech, where he never played, leaving because coach Pat Knight was fired.

Last season he was National Junior College Player of the Year, leading South Plains College of Texas to a 36-0 record and the national championship.

Of course in between there were several issues with the law. According to the Dallas Morning News, he was charged in 2010 with forgery, a misdemeanor resulting from using counterfeit money on two occasions to buy marijuana just before graduating from high school a year earlier.

He was sentenced to probation, which was revoked in early 2012 for a number of violations that included testing positive for alcohol, cocaine and marijuana.

Now he insists he has turned things around.

"I got off probation a couple of months ago and I am glad everything is where I envisioned it being," he said.

Unlike the many college basketball fans he has infuriated with his self-promoting antics on the court, La Salle has nothing but respect for him.

"He plays every game with his heart and that is like me, I play with my heart," said La Salle's Ramon Galloway, who will likely be guarding Henderson at times.

And then Galloway explained the way to stop him.

"He is going to shoot," Galloway said. "I have to make every shot contested."


Contact Marc Narducci at mnarducci@phillynews.com. Follow @sjnard on Twitter.

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