Photo by Kyle West
After you lose the trust of basketball coaches around Ontario University Athletics, how to do you bounce back to show them that you were worth a shot? You get named to not only the OUA All-Rookie team but the U Sports All-Rookie Team too. After just one season with the McMaster men’s basketball team, first-year guard Jordan Henry has proven a lot of naysayers wrong.
Henry, like most basketball players, first encountered the game through street basketball at just three years old. He first joined a team when he was in the fifth grade and has had quite a journey since then. Shorter than the average basketball player, Henry did not let his height stop him from going after what he loved.
“My love for basketball came from just watching it on television,” said Henry. “Watching players like Allen Iverson and Kobe Bryant, I wanted to be just like them when I was younger.”
Henry’s talent started to speak for itself when he was in the tenth grade and he went to Pine Ridge Secondary School, a school in Pickering, Ontario with a well-known basketball program. During this time, he also played for Team Canada along with first-year Duke sensation R.J. Barrett and was part of history when the under-19 team became the first national team to win gold in basketball at any International Basketball Federation or Olympic event.
The national team was led by the Ryerson University Rams’ head coach Roy Rana, so it seemed like the obvious fit for Henry to commit to Ryerson when it was time for him to choose where he would take his talents in post-secondary. But things didn’t go exactly as planned.
Shortly after making the verbal decision, Henry decommitted. This decision had a lot of people scratching their heads, but for Henry, his decision was one that many high school students have made. With Ryerson’s campus downtown and close to his home, he knew he would not be getting the ‘university experience’, and class in a concrete jungle was not what he wanted.
Searching for his destination and before he landed at McMaster, he took a pit stop in London, ON.
“I committed and went to Western [University] but unfortunately, that didn’t work out,” said Henry. “I was not focusing on school and I knew if I continued, I was going to flunk out. So, after playing one game, I decided to leave Western.”
Unfortunately for Henry, according to U Sports’ Eligibility Rules, a student-athlete who transfers from one U Sports member institution team to another after having been assessed one year of eligibility, must not participate in any competition (conference or non-conference) for a period of 365 days.
However, the one-year wait was the least of Henry’s problems. After bouncing from Ryerson to Western, despite his talent and accolades to prove it, a lot of coaches did not think he was worth the risk, except for Mac’s head coach Patrick Tatham.
“I knew Patrick from high school, and he took a chance on me,” said Henry. “I gained PT’s trust by working hard and showing him I wanted this just as much as he did.”
So far, after just one season together, that chance has paid off for both Tatham and Henry.
“Mac has been a good fit for me,” Henry said. “At the start, it was kind of hard basketball wise and I thought I lost my rhythm, but as I worked hard and pushed through, I became more comfortable and it’s been easy ever since.”
That in combination with a better understanding of university life thanks to his time at Western, and a few friendly faces including ex-Western teammate Damiann Prehay who also came to Mac this season, set Henry up for success.
In a season of ups-and-downs for the Marauders, Henry was one of Mac’s most consistent players this season. Henry played in all 24 regular season games, starting 21, and had a total of 113 assists by the end of the season, which placed him fourth in assists in the OUA.
He also averaged 11.9 points per game, so it was no surprise when he was named to both the OUA and U Sports All-Rookie Teams. Though the recognition was a humbling honour for Henry, getting to prove those who doubted him wrong throughout the season are the moments that will stick with him forever.
“Winning the big games against Brock [University] and [the University of Wilfred] Laurier are moments I’ll remember,” said Henry. “But winning against Western will stick with me forever because not only did it show them that they lost a good player, it showed me that I made the right decision coming to Mac.”
The team player in every sense has a bright Marauder career ahead of him over the next few years. With goals to get better at basketball and one day make the U Sports Men’s Basketball All-Canadian First Team, he hopes to one day play professional basketball and maybe even get into fashion.