As I wrote last week, I’m not about to make grand declarations from four semi-competitive games in August. Yes, Marquette went 4-0 and generally looked impressive, but the quality of competition isn’t high to begin with, and those teams were in preseason form as well. It was 1,000 times better than Pro-Am scrimmages, but still not enough to draw sweeping conclusions.
One point that was driven home over and over again, though, is that Henry Ellenson is as good or better than advertised. He should have been a top-10 recruit in every single class of 2015 ranking, not just the ESPN one. His talent oozes every time he touches the ball, particularly when he touches it 94 feet away from the basket.
Before we get into it a bit more, let’s pause to watch his highlights from the four games.
Games 1 & 2
Games 3 & 4
Once more, forget the stats. Yes, Henry led the team in scoring during the trip, and a four game sample tells us much more than a single outing, but these numbers lie and should not be trusted. Instead focus on items that will translate even when he’s not backing down a 6-foot-6 forward.
Things like his footwork. Go to the 1:25 mark of the first video. Duane feeds him just outside the block, with Henry’s momentum stalled, not a great scoring position. A quick pump fake pass freezes the help defense and isolates him 1-0n-1. He uses his frame and strength to get into the paint, but still has the defender all over him. A quick spin (nimbly done for a man his size) gets him around the defender with a good look at the basket. This isn’t unheard of from an MU big, (Davante Gardner made a living with this move) but it is rare enough. However, it doesn’t stop there. Henry has the wherewithal to know a help defender is coming. Instead of forcing the action, he pumps, gets the defender in the air. Again, at his size and age, these are all highly advanced moves. Oh, and he leans into the defender on the way down, drawing the foul while getting an easy bucket for an And-1. This is lottery pick material and it wasn’t even his most impressive clip.
That title belongs to this:
Are you kidding me. If this was the And-1 Mix Tape Tour that play would have the masses storming the court declaring it’s over. If you had any doubts whether Henry had the skill to be a one and done, these 18 seconds should remove it. Yes, it’s folly to be so bold when I already said not to make too much of the results of the trip, but you can’t teach what Henry did there. He gets the rebound and immediately looks to lead the break, though Marquette doesn’t have numbers. For 99% of players his size, this would have coaches screaming in terror. Right before hitting half court, a defender goes for the steal and Henry hits him with a crossover without even breaking his stride. That’s an advanced move for NBA guards. It’s impossible for someone nearing 7-feet not named Kevin Durant. With his full momentum still going, he deftly gets around the defender with one giant step while bringing the ball above his head, out of the reach of the poking defender. Henry takes off from 2 feet past the arc and maintains enough body control to not plow over the final defender, finishing the play with a soft finger roll. Sick, amazing, nasty, awe-inspiring.
Once more, these are only highlights so they will obviously downplay the turnovers and slow rotations on defense. He’s not an NBA player just yet and will have more than a few struggles with better competition this season. But what he possesses you can’t teach. Enjoy him while you can, MU fans, because he won’t be here much longer.