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Henderson Better Off in NBDL Than College

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By Jim Weber

As much as I love watching Marshall Henderson play college basketball, I really think it’d be best for his career - and possibly his life - if he spent next season in the NBDL.

I’m not saying Ole Miss head coach Andy Kennedy should throw Henderson off the team for this reason or that if I was 22 that I’d be able to walk away from my senior year in college. I’m just making the following observation:

It’s blatantly clear that Henderson isn’t going to change his act as long as he’s the Big Man on Campus. Henderson’s timeline of trouble includes using counterfeit money to buy marijuana, punching a BYU player, going to jail after testing positive for drugs and his recent indefinite suspension over reportedly failing multiple drug tests. Now there are reports about Henderson having three incidents with police since the season ended.

Henderson’s immediate response to all over this? Ripping Erin Andrews and being part of a sarcastic video posted to Instagram in which he feigns remorse. He has since spoken to former college basketball player and addict Chris Herren, but I still remain very skeptical about Henderson’s future at Ole Miss.

Quite simply, he needs to be humbled and removed from his vices. That clearly won’t happen as long as he stays in Oxford, where he’s the biggest celebrity on campus and always the life of the party. Just type in “Marshall Henderson drunk” into Google images if you don’t know what I’m talking about. And if he actually has a drug and alcohol addiction like many people have speculated, a college campus is the absolute last place he should be during recovery.

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What would be more humbling than spending next season in the real world living on $20,000 a year and renting a one-bedroom apartment in a city like Fort Wayne, IN, or McAllen, TX? Granted, it would be a lonely existence compared to one’s senior year in college and maybe Henderson couldn’t handle that. But in the NBDL, Henderson would be playing with a bunch of older men who treat the game as a job rather than partying late into the night after wins.

Talk about a reality check.

A move from college to the NBDL would also be good for Henderson’s game. Everyone already knows he can shoot. But he’s extremely erratic, has bad shot selection and turns the ball over too much. He’ll continue to be the same player as a senior at Ole Miss because he’s the Rebels’ star player who does what he wants. It would be different in the NBDL, where he wouldn’t be allowed to get away with sloppy play and juvenile stunts like this if he wants to stay on the floor:

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Yes, Henderson could get a bigger payday in Europe, but a EuroTrip for him at this point would be a recipe for disaster with Henderson and he’d also be out of sight, out of mind for NBA scouts.

A move to the D-League already worked wonders for former Georgia Tech star Glen Rice Jr., who was dismissed by the Yellow Jackets last year after three suspensions - the last of which was a result of a gun charge. Rice Jr. revived his career under the radar in the NBDL by averaging 25.0 PPG, 9.5 RPG and 4.0 APG for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and turning himself into the 35th overall pick of last month’s NBA draft by the Washington Wizards.

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“(The NBDL) taught a lot,” Rice Jr. recently told The Washington Post. “Mainly because of the teammates and whatnot. Professional guys. It’s a lot of older guys and they’ve been through a lot more than a college teammate and whatnot. And I just took out a lot from what they say and also what they do, how they carry themselves. I think the D-League was a big stepping stone in my career.”

Henderson doesn’t have nearly the same pro prospects as Rice Jr. – ESPN’s Chad Ford ranks Henderson as the 129th best player in the 2014 NBA Draft – but there’s no reason Henderson can’t be drafted next June if he cleans up his game and behavior, both of which are much more likely to happen in the NBDL than at Ole Miss.

Yes, the 2013-14 college basketball season wouldn’t be the same without Marshall Henderson’s jaw-dropping highlights and hi-jinks. But for his sake, I think it would be best if the last image we have of Henderson in a college uniform is him flipping the double bird to the crowd after last season’s NCAA tournament loss.

It would certainly be fitting.

Jim Weber is the founder of Lost Lettermen. You can follow him on Twitter at @JimMWeber and @LostLettermen.

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