Gerald HendersonHt/Wt: 6-5 / 215 lbs
2009 Draft Profile - Gerald HendersonGerald Henderson Jr., son of former pro Gerald Henderson is widely considered one of the best athletes and defensive guards available in the draft. A disciple of Mike Krzyzewski’s legendary Duke Defense, he uses top notch technique and athleticism to epitomize what being a two-way player is all about.
Henderson relies on a combo of basketball IQ, athleticism, size, length, and strength to be the defensive playmaker that makes the Duke defense go. He has the ability to guard all three perimeter positions and is quite comfortable taking on the opponent’s best scorer and shutting him down.
What makes it hard to score on him is his ability to anticipate the move, and stay in his players face, basically forcing him to give the ball up. He is also exceptional in a help role, and makes good solid choices on when to offer a hand. On the help end of defense his stellar lateral quickness allows him to jump in front of penetrators, and disrupt the flow of the ball, sometimes drawing charges, other times just creating havoc. No one can question his toughness, as he played the last two months of 2008 with a torn ligament in his wrist.
Offensively, he does a great job creating separation, even though he’s not a top threat from the outside, and has never played with a low post presence. He’s been hot and cold from the three point line, and one would surmise that the extra couple of feet to the pro three is going to hurt him. He covers that by having a tremendous mid range game, but most of his talent comes from his dynamic right hand. Force him left and he’s a different player, as Jay Wright and the Villanova Wildcats did to oust Henderson and Duke in the NCAA tournament.
Another strong part of his offensive repertoire is as a cutter, where when he receives the ball he can get to the rack and convert on hardcore slams and other difficult shots that have a high degree of difficulty. He seems very comfortable hanging in the air and absorbing contact, without being knocked off the ball, which is very important. It’s a testament to his overall strength and athletic prowess.
More then just ability, Gerald Henderson plays the game with a passion that all coach’s love, being that his dad was a pro; he has that air of professionalism and comes to play every night. His ability to maintain a high level of energy, while remaining focused and in-tune is a byproduct of growing up around the game.
His physical attributes are good but not great. He’s a little on the short side, will probably measure around 6’3, but carries a very strong 215 pounds with a long wingspan that helps him out immensely. His jumping is explosive and electric, and he gets up quick, so he can block shots on much bigger players that underestimate his ability. His first step is at the elite level and he’s a quick jumper, which helps him snare rebounds in transition and in the half court.
He finished his junior season with pretty good stats, while playing in a very team oriented offense. He averaged 16.5 points, 4.9 rebounds and 2.5 assists, and those numbers could have been higher if he wanted to dominate the ball.
The areas he needs to improve on are number one, ball handling. While he handles the ball well, he played a lot of small forward for Duke and the ball handling responsibility usually fell on other players. To fully utilize his outstanding athletic attributes, he needs to spend a lot of time going over basic dribbling drills. If he does, this could vault him to another level, especially if he could play the point guard position, although I don’t really see that.
He also needs a reliable outside shot, and in time a three point shot. His first step is so good, that if he has to be guarded 25 feet from the hoop he’s going to blow by people. That coupled with his leaping ability could make him a special player.
More proof of his athleticism would be winning the 2006 McDonald’s All-American game Slam Dunk contest, and in high school, he was a two-time league champion in the high jump and triple jump and also lettered and made all-conference honors in golf as a freshman.
Gerald was also a key contributor off the court for Duke, getting involved in their award-winning Verizon Read with the Blue Devils, a community outreach reading program in the Durham school district. He also was a participant with the Duke Children’s Hospital and Ronald McDonald House.
Draft Profile provided by Ed Ziti of SportsPolyMath.com
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