In the eighth grade Shane Henry wrote that he wanted to play shooting guard for the Miami Heat. He was just 5-foot-7 then, but he’s 6-foot-8 now and a step closer to his childhood dream.
Henry recently announced that he committed to play basketball at Virginia Tech after finishing up classes and getting his associate’s degree at Georgia Perimeter College this summer. Now that he’s in what is arguably the SEC of college basketball, Henry can get the exposure he needs if he’s going to make it big. The future is promising, but it was Henry’s past that paved the way for his present success.
As a freshman in high school Henry didn’t get much playing time on the freshmen team, but he made the team, which you think would transition to him making it as a sophomore. Wrong. Henry didn’t make the team as a sophomore, but they offered him a position as the JV team manager.
“After being cut from my junior varsity team they offered me to be the manager just to stay around the team,” Henry said. “Really I thought that was just a charity thing for the coach to offer me, but I took advantage of it. I took advantage of being around the team and still being around basketball. Not giving up on myself and my dream, just really proving people wrong. And I’m still trying to do that to this day.”
It’s probably safe to say Henry has at least proved a few people wrong. He went from team manager to varsity to community college and now to an ACC powerhouse, all with the support of Newton head basketball coach Rick Rasmussen.
“He totally developed in our program,” Rasmussen said. “He went from being on the freshman team as a little freshman. He hadn’t hit his growth spurt yet. He didn’t play that much. And then his sophomore year he was the JV manager because he really didn’t make the team, but we let him practice and he got better. By the end of the year we played him in a couple games.”
“It’s an incredible story that he went from being the JV manager in his sophomore year to making our varsity.”
After playing in a couple of games at the end of his sophomore season, Henry practiced hard in the summer, working out at the rec every day. He didn’t play summer ball with the team – he just worked on his game.
Henry could have rested on his laurels or even transferred to Alcovy when the county created new zoning for the schools, but he came back for his junior year and left an impression on his coach.
“We were like, ‘Oh my gosh,’” Rasmussen said. “He’s grown like three or four inches. He’s really athletic. We were like man. I looked at one of my assistants and I said, ‘You know what Shane’s going to be a college player.’”
Years later, Coach Rasmussen’s tune has gone up a notch.
“I really think with Shane’s ability and his hard work, Shane does have a chance to play professionally,” Rasmussen said. “Shane is an extremely hard worker.”
Henry is headed to Virginia Tech because he worked his butt off. His persistent determination and work ethic parallels how he plays the game of basketball.
“Being predominantly a shot-blocker, a rebounder and playing defense. Producing offense when I can and when the opportunity presents itself,” Henry said. “I just want to give the team an edge on defense so once we play defense the offense will come easy.”
That’s the type of player Virginia Tech is getting. Hokies head coach Buzz Williams has already talked to Henry about plans he has for him.
“He told me that I will be playing the four,” Henry said. “He hasn’t given me anything to work on yet but he will be doing that soon when they send out some weight books and skill work to do. I know I’ll be working at the top of the key, handling the ball more and just trying to be effective making mismatches.”
“I would like to get stronger this summer so I’m going to stay in the weight room as much as possible. My ball handling, my shooting and just being really consistent,” Henry said.
As a JUCO player transitioning to four-year college ball, Henry couldn’t have landed in a better spot. Williams has a history of developing JUCO players into NBA material. In recent times he has turned the likes of Jimmy Butler, Jae Crowder and Darius Johnson-Odom into solid players in the NBA.
“Buzz is really known for developing junior college guys in their two years left. So an interesting thing for me will be if they decide to redshirt him or will they play him right away,” Rasmussen said. “If they redshirt him he’ll be able to develop even more and if they decide to go ahead and play him right away, I think he’ll be fine.”
“From my knowledge, Buzz runs an up and down style. He really gets up and down the court and I think that would be great for Shane to be able to use his athleticism. Open opportunities at the basket are all monster dunks from Shane because he plays above the rim so much. He’s so athletic and long.”
Shane was being heavily recruited at GPC, but for him it came down to two schools: Virginia Tech and Texas Tech. Inevitably it was the campus and Williams, as the deciding factors in Henry’s decision.
“It was the campus it was really homey and the coaches,” Henry said. “One of the coaches had been recruiting me since the summer, so we had a good relationship. Buzz Williams is just a standup guy and he gives everything straight forward. And I like that about him.”
Henry is holding on to his dream of playing shooting guard for Miami, which he’s rooting for in the NBA Finals. “I’m sticking to it,” he said.
“If he plays two years at Virginia Tech, he’ll get exposure and he’s such a worker I think he’ll definitely play [professionally],” Rasmussen said confidently. “Whether it’s overseas or NBDL or NBA. I think he’ll definitely get an opportunity because there aren’t many guys with his link and athleticism and that combination is really, really good.”