On Wednesday afternoon, the Ole Miss Rebels and head coach Andy Kennedy announced that superstar play maker Marshall Henderson had been suspended indefinitely from the program for failing either one or possibly even multiple drug tests.
To those who know Henderson and his past, this occurrence certainly does not come as any real surprise. In fact, Henderson has even served jail time in the past for violating his probation with the use of cocaine, weed and alcohol. It appeared for the most part however, that Henderson was ready to turn things around, landing at Ole Miss and lighting up the competition by averaging a conference-best 20.1 points per game this past season. The Rebels advanced and even won a game within the NCAA Tournament this past season and the best news for Ole Miss and Kennedy was that Henderson still had one year of eligibility remaining.
Henderson opted to return, but again, people were skeptical about his ability to make it to the start of the 2013-14 season. Now, that future is in doubt as many expected. Henderson’s future with Ole Miss is being labeled as “up in the air” and there are even reports that he could enter rehab for his drug related issues.
At this point however, things look pretty simple — if Henderson can live up to the new expectations laid out before him (which may include a stint in rehab), then he could potentially return to the hardwood next season and that’s a big IF.
Here’s the bottom line though — Ole Miss and Kennedy especially, can’t afford to get rid of him.
Kennedy signed an extension following the team’s success this season and if it wasn’t for Henderson and his production, his hot seat may have been burning at an all-time high. As for the Rebels as a group, well, this is the most success that they have had in a while and again, Henderson has been the main reason.
Okay, so why should anyone keep giving Henderson chances? And why would Ole Miss want this type of negative attention?
Well, it’s because on the off chance that Henderson actually does live up to his next step of expectations, the Rebels and college basketball as a whole will reap the benefits once the winter months roll around. Love him or hate him, fans want to see Henderson on the court for one more season.
Henderson is a talent, but will he figure it out quick enough to showcase that talent in Oxford for one more season?
Henderson needs Ole Miss and Ole Miss needs Henderson, it’s sadly as simple as that.
Follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @PaulSeaverRS