Arkansas basketball

2019-20 season review: Ethan Henderson

Arkansas forward Ethan Henderson dunks during a game against LSU on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, in Fayetteville.

The seventh in a nine-part series reviewing Arkansas basketball in 2019-20.

Ethan Henderson

Position: Forward

Class: Sophomore

Height: 6-8

Weight: 210

Stats: 1.6 points, 2.3 rebounds, .2 assists, .8 blocks, .2 steals

57.1 percent FG; 57.1 percent 2-point FG; 41.2 percent free throws

Per 40: 6.7 points, 10.0 rebounds, .9 assists, 3.5 blocks, .9 steals

SEC stats: 1.9 points, 2.4 rebounds, .2 assists, .6 blocks, .2 steals

56.3 percent FG; 56.3 percent 2-point FG; 43.8 percent free throws

SEC home: 1.6 points, 2.1 rebounds, .3 blocks

50.0 percent FG; 50.0 percent 2-point FG; 44.4 percent free throws

SEC road: 1.2 points, 1.3 rebounds, .3 steals, .6 blocks

66.7 percent FG; 66.7 percent 2-point FG; 42.9 percent free throws

Best month: March - 3.7 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.3 blocks, .3 steals

75.0 percent FG; 75.0 percent 2-point FG; 45.5 percent free throws

Worst month: February - 1.8 points, 2.5 rebounds, .5 blocks, .6 steals

46.2 percent FG; 46.2 percent 2-point FG; 40.0 percent free throws


• Was playing his best ball in March. Ethan Henderson played sparingly in the early stages of the season, but he made an impact in different areas in each of Arkansas' final three games. He was having a terrific month before the remainder of the season was called off. Just look at his March numbers above. And it wasn't as if Henderson was padding his stats in mop-up time. He averaged more than 20 minutes played in those games and was very productive.

Henderson scored a career-high 10 points in the Razorbacks' home win over LSU to begin the month and added six rebounds and an assist. That came against a really athletic, quick-jumping Tigers front line that can cause serious problems on both ends. He was up for the challenge, though. Henderson himself has a great second jump, which aided him in this game. At Texas A&M, he scored just one point but grabbed five rebounds and blocked four shots. He had some trouble with the bigger Josh Nebo, but four blocks in 19 minutes is really solid defensive work. He then blocked three more shots in the SEC Tournament against Vanderbilt. His length gave the Commodores fits.

Henderson is another player who I thought was hitting his stride as postseason play arrived. He was rapidly gaining confidence, Eric Musselman said, and grasping what the coaching staff wanted out of him.

• Provided a spark in early going in a couple of games. Bud Walton Arena got loud quite a bit this season, and the roar from the crowd after Henderson gave Arkansas seven big, productive minutes against Austin Peay has to be among those top 10 moments, in my opinion. He scored two points after he offensive rebounded a missed 3-pointer, grabbed three defensive rebounds and blocked three shots in that short span. The jolt he provided the Razorbacks was terrific, and it came after playing just 20 minutes in the first seven games of the season. He was ready when his name was called, and for that he was awarded the Level 5 player of the game chain.

He was again really good Feb. 26 against Tennessee in Bud Walton Arena, and he wound up playing a career-high 30 minutes. He pitched in two points and finished with nine rebounds and three more blocks. Watching a replay of the game the morning after, he easily could have been credited with another block or two, and two steals. That night, he gave Vols forward John Fulkerson all he could handle. Henderson rejected one of his attempts out to near the 28-foot marker. Fulkerson shot at least 50 percent in three of Tennessee's last four games, and Arkansas was the outlier thanks in large part to Henderson. LSU coach Will Wade gave the sophomore props after he scored 10 points on his team, noting few players in the league had had success defending Fulkerson like Henderson.

• Growing as a rim protector and defender. Henderson recorded at least one block in seven games this season, and he blocked three or more shots in four of them. According to KenPom analytics, Henderson finished the year with a block rate of 9.4 percent. With him in the lineup in March, opponents shot just 45.2 percent on 2-point attempts versus 52 percent when he sat, per HoopLens lineup data.

I thought Henderson was also really good late in the year after Musselman and the coaching staff tweaked Arkansas' pick-and-roll defense. He played his part in the team's pick-and-roll coverage very well, and it was one reason - a key reason - he saw a spike in playing time as the season wound down.

• Henderson turned the ball over only twice in 184 minutes played, and he did not have one in his final 163 minutes in the lineup. For reference, Jeantal Cylla played 20 more minutes than him this season and committed 10 more turnovers. I get that Henderson did not have the ball in his hands very often when he was on the floor, but this tells me he kept things about as simple as he could when he did, and that's a good thing.


• Struggled to finish at the rim at times. This is somewhat understandable because Henderson had played only 38 minutes as the schedule hit February. He had not gone up against a number of the big-name forwards Arkansas faced early in the season. He finished just 6 of 13 attempts at the rim in February and was 2 of 5 in losses at Tennessee and against Mississippi State. I vividly remember the misses against the Bulldogs. Those point-blank looks had to be scores in a game like that.

With a little bit more seasoning and experience, and strength, I think he can become a great finisher and put together stretches like Reggie Chaney had this season in which he was not affected whatsoever by SEC length. Again, he is so quick off his feet around the rim. He has to use that to his advantage.

For the season, Henderson made 12 of 20 attempts at the rim.

• Could not stay on the floor in some games because of foul trouble. Above, I mentioned that Henderson is taking the appropriate steps to be a better defender and rim protector, but, like most young forwards, he still has some growing to do. He could lose his defensive discipline at times and jump at almost every shot fake and bite on most set-up moves.

According to KenPom, Henderson owned Arkansas' highest fouls committed per 40 minutes figure at 7.0, and that number jumped to 7.5 in conference play. At Florida, in his first career start, Henderson was playing admirably. He scored seven points, grabbed three rebounds and blocked a shot, but he fouled out in just 10 minutes on the floor.

He was also whistled for four fouls in just six minutes at Georgia less than two weeks later. Continued work on defensive anticipation will do him good. He already has a solid foundation.

• Free throw shooting needs work. He was just 7 of 17 at the line this season. Although he did not play a lot this season, he still drew better than three fouls per game, according to KenPom. In that case, his touch at the stripe needs improvement.

Extra points

On floor: Offense (350 poss.) - .97 PPP, 19.4 percent OR rate, 46.5 percent 2FG; Defense (355 poss.) - 1.00 PPP, 28.4 percent OR rate, 50.6 percent 2FG

Off floor: Offense (2,056 poss.) - 1.02 PPP, 21.4 percent OR rate, 52.4 percent 2FG; Defense (2,054 poss.) - .91 PPP, 31.0 percent OR rate, 50.6 percent 2FG

Best Henderson quote: "I feel like I have more to prove. I have no room for error." - After making his first start in Bud Walton Arena against Tennessee

Best quote on Henderson: "He started picking up our terminology. We've seen a more focused player. We've seen tremendous growth in him coming into the gym at off-hours. I just think he's taking the game really, really serious of late." - Eric Musselman following Arkansas' home win over Tennessee

Season review series

Part 1: Desi Sills

Part 2: Isaiah Joe

Part 3: Adrio Bailey

Part 4: Mason Jones

Part 5: Jalen Harris

Part 6: Reggie Chaney