You may not know it yet, but Marshall Henderson of Ole Miss is the most entertaining player in college basketball. Here's everything you need to know about him.
What's going on in that GIF up there?
Marshall Henderson being fucking awesome, that's what. On Saturday, Henderson struggled throughout Ole Miss's game against Auburn, making just four of his 13 three-point attempts. Henderson still managed to come up big on an off-night, though, hitting a pair of game-winning free throws. Whereupon he rushed over to the Auburn student section, violently popped his jersey right in the front of an angry mob of bros, and gave birth to one of the best sports GIFs of the year.
Wow, this guy seems kind of crazy.
He is kind of crazy. The last time Henderson found himself in the spotlight, he was hitting a 35-foot buzzer-beater to send a game against Vanderbilt into overtime and absolutely losing his shit.
That clip only tells part of the story, though. Henderson spent a good portion of the Vanderbilt game in a fugue state. He was so unhinged during that game that someone went so far as to make a six-minute highlight reel of Henderson doing things like pounding his fist into his hand and shouting f-bombs after missing free throws, flapping his arms and screaming at nobody in particular after hitting a three, and having a conversation with a referee that featured some psychotic grinning and clapping.
At one point during that game, after converting an and-one layup, Henderson popped up off the floor and made a beeline for the Vandy student section. Look closely at Henderson's eyes in that moment, just before his panicked coach swoops in and pulls him back into reality. Those are the eyes of a man in the throes of demonic possession. It's a wonder Vandy didn't go to a box-and-one defense with Henderson being shadowed by Max von Sydow.
Hold on. Can we get back to that GIF for a second?
We sure can! It's glorious, isn't it? Just take a moment to let the delicious, seething rage of those Auburn bros wash over you.
I'm not sure if I've ever seen anything more satisfying. And don't discount the contribution of the old coot with the courtside seat, the one who stands up, horrified by this gat damn Henderson kid's shenanigans and looking like the hangingest judge in Lee County.
The real hero of the GIF, though, is the security guard in the white shirt who can't help but smile at Henderson.
He knows he's in the presence of pure, glorious crazy, no chaser.
OK, back to Henderson. So he's nuts, but is he any good?
Well, that depends on your definition of good. Henderson is a classic gunner. During his freshman year at Utah, he threw up 6.5 three-point attempts per game despite playing just 27 minutes per. Now in his junior year at Ole Miss, he is leading the SEC with 19.2 points per game while hoisting threes at a ridiculous rate, attempting nearly 11 per game. He's hitting 35 percent of those attempts, which isn't a fantastic rate, but that's beside the point. Henderson's shooting percentage isn't what makes him so awesome. What makes him awesome is that his shot is undeniably gorgeous, and that he is willing to unleash it 11 times per game without the narrowest sliver of hesitation or guilt. Also, he says things like—
Wait, why is he at Ole Miss now if he played his freshman year at Utah? And why have I never heard of him before?
I was just getting to that. As you might imagine, Henderson's personality has led him on an odd and twisting path through the college basketball landscape. Before graduating from high school, Henderson was arrested and sentenced to 25 days in jail for trying to buy $800 (59 grams) worth of marijuana with counterfeit money. He was also coached by his father during high school, an experience that he has described as "freakin' miserable" to the Lexington Herald-Leader. This likely had something to do with his decision to move out of his parents' house when he was 18, even though he was still in high school.
After his freshman season at Utah, Henderson decided to leave because then-coach Jim Boylen's philosophy didn't mesh with Henderson's "individualism." Henderson transferred to Texas Tech, but after head coach Pat Knight was fired, the guard blew town before ever playing a game.
So Henderson went underground, transferring to South Plains College, a junior college in Levelland, Texas, where he helped lead the basketball team to an undefeated season and an NCJAA championship. While at SPC, Henderson continued to shoot an ungodly amount of threes—312 three-pointers in all, hitting 41 percent of them—and amassed plenty of technical fouls for doing things like hanging on the rim too long after a dunk.
Henderson's play at SPC was impressive enough to earn him an invite to Ole Miss, a move that he and his coach announced at this adorably lo-fi press conference:
Hey, the guy in that video doesn't really seem all that crazy. You sure that's Marshall Henderson?
Yep! That floppy-haired kid who goofily poses for pictures while wearing three-goggles is somehow the same maniac in the GIF at the top of the page. That's what makes Henderson so intriguing. His on-court behavior clearly comes from some deep, dark Helter Skelterish part of the soul, but off the court he's a perfectly sane, self-aware young man who does not at all seem like a human acid flashback. Here's some stuff he told the Lexington Herald-Leader:
That's not really me reacting. That's like my heart and soul coming out of me. All the work I put in to finally be successful on a great team.
Well, I'm sorry. I'm different. I've got to be different in order to be successful.
Every team has a little white guy who can shoot threes. I'm trying to make a difference.
I feel like I'm getting it from different angles. Some people just don't like the way I am. I feel that's a bunch of old-school people. They're just like, 'Oh, no. We don't like him.'
How can you not like him?
You're right. For a ball-hogging gunner this guy does seem pretty likable. Anything else I should know?