Sometimes the importance of a player isn’t defined by stats we see in a box score.
The Kansas State Wildcats (23-5, 12-3 Big 12) are a virtual lock for the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats are not in a desperate situation or in the need of players to quickly to return the team – well, not for wins anyway. Jordan Henriquez has been absent from the team due to the loss of his grandmother. His teammates and coaches advised him not to hurry back – he didn’t, except he wanted to.
The senior lost his grandmother on Febuary 17, played in a game on 18, then went home to mourn the loss of a woman close to his heart.
(The following quotes are credited to The Topeka Capital-Journal)
“It’s been tough,” Henriquez said Thursday. “Just losing someone in the family is not easy, and that’s just for anyone. It makes me stronger when I’m around my teammates and my family. They’re my family, too, so when I’m around them I feel like I’m at home.”
“They’ve all reached out to me when I’ve been home and just staying in touch and everything, just getting text messages before and after the game,” Henriquez said of his teammates and coaches.
Bruce Weber felt that Henriquez first responsibility was to mourn–then to come back to the team:
“It was tough,” Wildcats coach Bruce Weber said. “When you’re here, your thoughts are pretty much about basketball and then you go home and to be around the family and sadness, I think he just felt like getting through the funeral and the family obligations. He texted me and said he was looking forward to getting back here.
“Now you kind of go back to real life, moving forward and trying to finish your career on a positive note. Hopefully he’ll be ready to play.”
Would the Wildcats have missed Henriquez if he was unable to play? Probably not, as he only averages four points per game. However, what Henriquez lacked in box-score greatness, he more than made-up in on the court leadership and drive.
The box-score only tells part of the story.
Joe is a Senior Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Joe on Twitter @JosephNardone