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Tim Henderson walks on to the Final Four for Louisville

Apr 6, 2013, 7:01 PM EDT

North Carolina A&T's R.J. Buck fights for the loose ball with University of Louisville's Tim Henderson during the second half of play in their second round NCAA basketball game at Rupp Arena in Lexington Reuters

Who’s that guy?

You’d be forgiven for asking that when you look at the Louisville lineup taking the floor in Atlanta right now. Where Kevin Ware would usually be standing in the pressure defense, there’s an unfamiliar face. He’s Tim Henderson, a Louisville local who walked on to the team. A 6’2″, 195-lb. junior, he’s averaged 3.6 minutes per game for his career as a Card. His 14 minutes and three points in a 64-61 home win over Pitt in January were by far the most he’s played all year long.

Henderson didn’t step foot on the floor for the Cards in last year’s run to the Final Four. This year, in the wake of the injury to Kevin Ware, he’s been called into action in one of the program’s most crucial games.

For fun, let’s give him his proper fifteen minutes of fame, courtesy of his bio on the Louisville basketball page:

  • Personal goal at UofL is to get an education and win a national title.
  • Enjoys playing baseball, football and Xbox in his spare time.
  • Chose to attend UofL because “I’ve been a fan my whole life.”
  • Best basketball advice given to him was hard work pays off.
  • Few people know that he sleeps with the television on.
  • Most proud of his family.
  • His entire family has had the greatest influence on his athletic career.
  • Feels Leonardo DiCaprio would be the best actor to play him in a movie.
  • When he played basketball as a kid, he pretended he was Larry Bird.

My favorite part of the well-worn bullet-point list (a staple for these kinds of bios) is the “hard work pays off” admonition. It’s worth noting for several reasons. If you really pay attention to college hoops, you know that the walk-ons put in brutal, bruising practice sessions against the team’s stars, and they do it for the love of the program. The only reward they usually get is the frantic quest to get in the box score at the end of a blowout.

There’s no doubt at all in my mind that Tim Henderson would rather have Kevin Ware healthy and in his rightful place on the floor. But Henderson earns huge props as the guy who put in the work, stayed ready, and got his shot on the big stage. It’s the walk-on’s dream.

Of course, Henderson could go one step further. He could be a small, but memorable part of fulfilling that first bullet point on his list.

UPDATE: Maybe not so small a part.

 

Eric Angevine is the editor of Storming the Floor. He tweets @stfhoops.

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