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Kicking Marshall Henderson off the team is the worst thing Andy Kennedy can do

Jul 11, 2013, 8:00 AM EDT


Last Monday, after having a chance to sit down and talk with Marshall Henderson at the Kevin Durant Skills Academy, I wrote about how the SEC’s leading scorer and the most polarizing player in the country had reached a crossroads in his career.

Turns out I was off by about 10 days.

Henderson has been suspended indefinitely by Ole Miss for a violation of team rules, that is reportedly either a failed drug test or multiple failed drugs tests, neither of which is a good thing for a kid that was arrested and put on probation for trying to buy $800 worth of weed with counterfeit money and who subsequently violated his probation by testing positive for cocaine, weed and alcohol.

According to Gary Parrish of, this is not an ordinary offseason suspension; Henderson’s status with the team is genuinely up in the air, with Jeff Goodman of adding that Henderson can return from the suspension, which had been coming for a while, if he can meet certain conditions. Rehab is a possibility.

So yeah, I was wrong last week.

As of Wednesday, Henderson’s career has officially pulled up to those crossroads.

I’m not going to rewrite this column again. The point is the same. The are two directions that Henderson can go from here. He can clean up his act — and, depending on how serious his issues with drugs and alcohol are, get himself clean, but I’ll get to that in a second — and become the senior leader for a team that won 27 games last year.

Or, he can keep doing what he’s been doing. Boozing with fans before he’s been eliminated from the NCAA tournament. Celebrating a holiday he’s dubbed “White Girl Wednesday”, which takes on a whole different meaning depending on what he tested positive for. Living out every frat boy’s fantasy of being the best player and the biggest partier for a school in the SEC.

I ended that column by saying that this is Henderson’s choice to make, but I don’t believe that to be the case anymore.

This is now Andy Kennedy’s choice to make, and I think to decision is simple.

He can’t kick Henderson off the team.

Not yet, anyway.

And there are two reasons why:

  • Kennedy took a risk bring Henderson into his program, but it was a risk he had to take. Prior to Henderson’s arrival, Kennedy at been at the helm of the Rebels for six seasons without a trip to the NCAA tournament. He was on the hot seat, and one more trip to the NIT could have cost him his job. To make matters worse, both Dundrecous Nelson and Jelan Kendrick, the guys that were supposed to be the back court of the future for Ole Miss, misbehaved their way out of the program before the 2011-2012 season had finished. Kennedy needed some scoring pop in his back court: enter Henderson, a kid as talented as he is troubled. Henderson averaged 20.1 points as a junior and led Ole Miss to the Round of 32. Kennedy made himself millions in guaranteed money in the process, as his contract was extended through 2017. That doesn’t happen without Henderson. It wouldn’t be right to bail on him now
  • … not at the time when he needs the most help. And that’s the point that needs to be driven home here. What will Henderson have left if he loses basketball? He’s certainly not going to be making an NBA roster. Will a European team bother wasting money on him? Would he even survive in those leagues? Greek fans throw firecrackers and flares at players during the games. What do you think they would do if Henderson started popping his jersey at them? I’m not saying he shouldn’t be punished. I’m not saying that he shouldn’t be suspended. I’m not saying that he shouldn’t have to earn his way back onto the team. But if the kid parties as hard as he does when he knows he has workouts and training and practice and games the next day, what happens to him when he has nothing to work towards?

I don’t know if Henderson is actually an addict. I don’t know if he actually has a drinking problem. For all any of us know, Henderson is just a kid that doesn’t like being told what he can and cannot do, particularly when it comes to partying.

But whatever the case is, Henderson is on the verge of tossing away his future in basketball.

He’s a kid that needs help making a change, whether that change is helping to kick an addiction or simply educating on proper decision-making skills.

Only this time, it’s not Henderson’s choice to make.

Kennedy needs to choose for him.

And there’s only one choice he can make.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

  1. peopletrains - Jul 11, 2013 at 8:32 AM

    This guy is a bum and always will be. Kick him to the curb.

  2. lancersblog - Jul 11, 2013 at 8:46 AM

    If Kennedy has some moral obligation to Henderson then it’s not on the basketball court, it’s in life. He can mentor him and help him all he wants off the court, but Marshall Henderson does not deserve the privilege of being a NCAA athlete, a teammate, or a Mississippi Rebel.

    Your second bullet doesn’t make any sense whatsoever. Everything you said is true and is still going to be true a year from now regardless of if he’s on the team or not. Do you see Henderson maturing if he can rejoin Ole Miss? I think you know the answer… He’s still going to get heckled in Europe or wherever he plays next and his reaction/attitude certainly is going to change with one more year at Ole Miss.

    This is a troubled guy that doesn’t care about his team, coach, university, or quite frankly himself. He needs help as far away from the basketball court as possible.

  3. sportsguy88 - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    How is this guy still on the team? He’s brought so much bad publicity to Ole Miss.

    • oxpatchreb - Jul 11, 2013 at 1:16 PM

      “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” – Oscar Wilde.

  4. whitdog23 - Jul 11, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    he’ll return. And Ole Miss will put up with him until March…. then the kid is on his own

  5. arlin1278 - Jul 11, 2013 at 10:30 AM

    According to the title of your article, Kennedy doesn’t have a choice what to do with Marshall. Then you say only one decision he can make??? This kid is no role model and Kennedy will make the choice as to what to do without you ‘leading’ his decision.

    • oxpatchreb - Jul 11, 2013 at 1:17 PM

      I bet you’re the most popular person at ALL the parties, huh?

  6. latemoney - Jul 11, 2013 at 10:46 AM

    This kid needs help; no question about that. However, Pat Kennedy’s help could involve something other than making sure that he plays at Ole Miss next season. While he may or may not be an addict (although he certainly exhibits many of the symptoms), there’s little doubt he has some serious problems with alcohol and other drugs that need to be addressed. For me, I hope he addresses those issues first and foremost before he returns to basketball-whether that’s next year or not, whether that’s at Ole Miss or not. I’d like to see the kid get healthy and then come back ballin’ like a madman! He has the rest of his life to live and I hope he can attack getting his health together with the same swag and confidence he exhibits on the court.

    • florida727 - Jul 11, 2013 at 11:54 AM

      I agree with most of what #latemoney has to say (except it’s ANDY Kennedy, not Pat Kennedy). This is clearly one gifted athlete. But he’s in the process of throwing it all away in the interest of “being popular” with fans and fellow students. I’d love to know who the heck is advising this kid. Parents? Mentors? Friends? If any of them genuinely cared about him, they’d step in and tell him exactly what he probably does NOT want to hear. It’s easy to tell someone what they want to hear. It takes courage to tell a friend what they don’t want to hear. That’s the true measure of a friend. “Yes men” are a dime a dozen when you’re successful in any aspect of life.

      I always think back to what a former boss of mine challenged me with: if you and I always agree on everything, one of us isn’t necessary. His point being, he wanted me to challenge him. The ultimate decision was his of course, but if I didn’t bring fresh thinking to the equation, what does he need me for?

      Henderson needs someone willing to tell him “no”. I’m a Gator fan, but I absolutely LOVE watching this kid play. I hope I get to again.

      • latemoney - Jul 11, 2013 at 1:19 PM

        Thanks for the correction, 727. I’m absolutely with you on loving watching this kid play, and believe me, I’m no Ole Miss fan. My guess is that he probably has at least a few people in his life who are telling him the right things but he may not be at a point in his life where he’s willing to/strong enough to follow the advice. Hopefully, he doesn’t need to hit rock bottom for it to sink in.

      • florida727 - Jul 11, 2013 at 2:22 PM

        Thanks, #late. Ultimately, even kids have to take responsibility for their own actions, no doubt. The thing that bothers me about Henderson is that he actually does have the potential to not just be a college “star”, but to get a paycheck for doing something he obviously loves doing. I hope too that he realizes what he has in front of him before it’s too late. The window for professional athletes, at least for most of them, is pretty short. It would be a shame for him not to at least get a shot at it just because of poor choices. You mentioned rock bottom… the scary part is that rarely do athletes actually get a second chance after genuinely sinking that low. He needs to correct now, not when he hits the proverbial bottom. I guess as a fan, I’m just being selfish, but I really do want to watch him play again.

  7. lawson1974 - Jul 11, 2013 at 5:51 PM

    I don’t think they should kick him off the team either, but Ole Miss and Kennedy doesn’t owe him anything. They’ve already given him plenty.

  8. arlingtonsynn - Jul 11, 2013 at 9:39 PM

    How many teams has this been for Henderson?

    Is this his third or fourth?

    He has had all of the wake up moments one should get. If he truly has a problem, then he probably needs to come off the ego trip associated with being a basketball player. Kennedy owes him nothing more.

    • florida727 - Jul 12, 2013 at 10:12 AM

      You’ve obviously never been a coach.

      Coaches consider their players to be their family, their own kids. Ask Pat Summit how many kids she’s had and she’d tell you hundreds (she actually knows the exact number). Kennedy is no different. HE feels he owes Henderson more. It doesn’t matter how many schools he’s gone to or what his past reveals, his CURRENT coach is the one that matters NOW.

  9. dexterismyhero - Jul 12, 2013 at 2:54 PM

    I’m making the shark sign and waving goodbye to the pompous a$$. Let him stay at school, but not be a part of the team. See what he can do then. If he continues the bad/stupid behavior then you can kick him out of school. Definitely needs help, but when he continues his a$$hat ways, curb him.

  10. oruacat2 - Jul 13, 2013 at 12:46 AM

    Rob – how do you justify describing Nelson as having “misbehaved his way out of the program” (a marijuana charge) while asserting that Kennedy shouldn’t dismiss Henderson, a repeat offender?

  11. judson67 - Jul 13, 2013 at 8:13 PM

    Well, you’re entire column has been rightly picked apart and dismissed as garbage already so I won’t bother doing so again; suffice it to say I agree with the posters.

    However, taking your columns culminating point – Ole Miss needs to keep Henderson on the team – as a “correct” assertion, I will make the only case for this outcome I can come up with.

    Assuming Ole Miss or Kennedy have some moral obligation to Henderson, the ONLY way he comes back to the Rebels basketball team is if he agrees to redshirt this season, take care of his substance abuse problems, get counseling for his behavior and keeps his nose clean.

    If he’s willing to meet these requirements I could make the case to give him another chance; NEXT year.

    However, the simple fact other players were dismissed from the team due to a single drug violation, it’s hard to make any case for Henderson.

    The only reason Henderson is receiving the consideration he is is because his presence (however ever turbulent) is the ONLY reason Kennedy has a job. Now that he has an extension through ’17, if I were he, I’d take advantage of this opportunity to get rid of Henderson and all that comes with him. Kennedy could easily take the high road and show how many opportunities Henderson was given and say he just couldn’t give him another. No one could argue that!

    A brief note on Kennedy, he should have been fired years ago after his incident in Cincinnati…

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