Oregon Tech was not on Jordan Henderson’s radar when he graduated from high school.
To some degree, it wasn’t on his radar in junior college.
“My story is different,” the 6-foot-9 senior says of his circuitous route to become a Hustlin’ Owl.
“Everything worked out well, in my opinion,” he says. “Everything happens for a reason.”
The soft-spoken gentle giant was slowed by an injury which kept him off the court last year, and his eyes share the hurt of not being able to be court side with his teammates as they marched to the NAIA Division II national championship game.
“It was tough,” Henderson says. “It is the first time in my career I missed games because of an injury, but I tried to be the best teammate I could for the guys. With the season they had, it helped, but it was tough not going to nationals.”
He played for Tech in its first appearance in Sioux Falls, S.D., two years ago.
He has a chance to play for the Owls this year at the Pentagon in Sioux Falls.
When he graduated from Evergreen High School in Vancouver, Wash., Henderson had verbally committed to former Cascade Collegiate Conference member Concordia of Portland.
Instead, he and another player headed to Miles College in Alabama, where promises weren’t kept.
Henderson then spent one season at East Arizona and another at North Idaho.
He credits assistant coach Josh Wetzler for bringing OIT into his vision.
Henderson was starting to get added playing time when he suffered a shoulder injury, and then had ankle issues.
“It wasn’t too bad and I played through it,” he says.
Once offseason workouts began, Henderson tore his labrum while lifting weights. Surgery came soon thereafter.
“Once I did it, coach (Justin) Parnell came with me for the results, and he maintained a positive attitude,” Henderson said, adding he spent the entire summer recovering and was frustrated with the amount of time he had to spend sidelined.
“The comeback was tricky,” the soon-to-be 23-year-old communications major says, but his rehabilitation included weight lifting and other forms of conditioning.
“Like I tell anyone,” he says, “redshirting can be a blessing. You get to work on your education. You get a chance to work on your game more without the stress of games. You get to work on things that maybe you didn’t have time for before.
“I just had to stay positive, stay up with my rehab and when I got the opportunity to come back, ease into it and work on things I needed to improve on,” he says.
“Dealing with health issues was a big struggle,” he adds.
While he was on the sideline, Tech added a couple more big men and now has four players at 6-9 or better, which altered his playing time.
“Once I got back I was trying to stay ready in case my opportunity came up,” Henderson says, “and I always try to be a positive person. The coaches are adamant on me to be positive and be the best teammate I can.
“I always think things could be worse, and that the good will come.”
Henderson says he gets asked about his future a lot, and admits he is not sure where things will lead.
He does want to play basketball as long as he can, and might look at coaching.
“I have to develop my network,” he says, adding that he might maintain an interest in entrepreneurship.
“I would like to leave an impact legacy,” Henderson says, “with my team, my community. Our motto this year is to be the best team ever, and to leave that legacy would be very special to me.”
Henderson at a Glance
Favorite book — “Among the Shadows” series.
Favorite TV show — The Office.
Favorite actor — Will Smith.
Favorite place visited — Flathead Lake, Mont., with family for Fourth of July celebrations.
Place would like to visit — Barcelona, Spain. Henderson says he is a huge FC Barcelona fan.
Hero — His father.
Sports hero — Kobe Bryant.
Favorite sports team — Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia Eagles, FC Barcelona.
If he had one hour, who would he spend it with — Kobe Bryant or Martin Luther King Jr.
Favorite food — sweet pork nachos.
Parents — Rochelle Sprunk and Dewayne Henderson.
Siblings — older brother Tyler.