Henderson and the leadership question

Something that stood out from Wednesday’s basketball presser is that Andy Kennedy continues to float the leadership tag for Marshall Henderson.

Yes, Henderson is a senior – the Rebels’ only senior – and leadership typically comes from your oldest guys.

But does it have to?

“Not necessarily. I think guys are natural leaders in some aspects,” Kennedy said.

At the age of 23, Henderson is easily the oldest player on the team, but there are several who have been in the program longer and have thrived with far less baggage.

Demarco Cox, Aaron Jones, LaDarius White and Jarvis Summers come to mind.

Marshall Henderson

Marshall Henderson

Leadership can take on many forms. I tend to think of a guy who rallies his teammates to greater effort and personal sacrifice. Those traits are missing in Kennedy’s description of Henderson’s leadership qualities.

Something that stands out, though, is the sharing of his time.

“It’s not always just about Marshall like it was in the past. He’s taking time out to try and help some of our younger guys learn what they’re supposed to do, maybe counsel them, if they’ve had a bad day or maybe I’m a little hard on them, give them a little bit of latitude. For that, I can see him maturing into what we need him to be,” Kennedy said.

While there are many elements to leadership, the most important is productivity. Players follow other players who make plays.

You can have great verbal skills and the gift of encouragement, and that will impact some players, but when you starting doing things that win games … that gets the attention of everyone.

“I know the guys in that locker room that he plays with respect his ability. I know they know his heart, and that they like him as a teammate. They know he’s going to prepare himself, and he’s going to compete his hardest. That to me is leadership,” Kennedy said.

It seemed to me last year that Henderson had a good relationship with his teammates. He was not opposed to passing the ball when he thought he was being overplayed by the defense. He was quick with a chest bump with teammates after good plays, his or theirs.

And as much as Marshall Henderson craved the spotlight he was just as happy to have his teammates join him there. His comments on Murphy Holloway following the SEC tournament come to mind.

He also let those teammates down with his off-season behavior. That may have created a difficult hurdle to overcome.

The leadership question may still need to be answered by a younger player.

If Henderson turns out to be the new and improved personality that Kennedy describes, then maybe he can add the maturity aspect to his on-court production and help the Rebels to greater heights at the critical moments in games.

Denham Springs, La., native, Mississippian since 1989 with a stop in Meridian before arriving in Tupelo. Daily Journal beat writer since 1996, covering Ole Miss since 2002. Proud Northeast Louisiana alum. Follow me on Twitter @parrishalford and listen to John Davis and myself daily with The Ole Miss Beat on Rebel Sports Radio.

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