The draft came and went. Sixty players were taken by NBA teams. Henry wasn’t one of them.
He had every right to be upset. Going undrafted is disappointing, especially considering the work put into the process. But he wasn’t. He was prepared for the possibility, if not expecting such a fate.
He took solace in knowing there was a collection of teams interested in signing him as an undrafted free agent. Yes, he’d have to prove himself in a summer camp somewhere. But this was still the dream.
“Me and my agent (Daniel Servick) were talking on the day of the draft,” Henry said. “He was saying if I didn’t get my name called, don’t sweat it, ‘cause there was a number of teams contacting him the day before the draft that wanted me on their team.”
Servick was right.
The Memphis Grizzlies and the Oklahoma City Thunder, among others, immediately emerged as potential landing spots. Henry worked out for both organizations in the weeks leading up to the draft, the most recent being the Grizzlies, who Henry visited June 26, two days prior to the draft’s opening bell.
The decision was difficult, but Henry chose the Grizzlies. The proximity to home played a factor, sure, but more than anything, Henry felt Memphis offered the best opportunity.
“I’m just happy to have an opportunity,” the 6-foot-10 Henry said. “They love my versatility and what I do. It’s just a matter of me going in there with the right mindset of trying to make the team. It’s a big opportunity. It’s basically a big job interview.”
The Grizzlies’ Director of Player Personnel, Tony Barone, told Henry the Grizzlies were already familiar with his game, with Memphis being in such close proximity to Oxford and Ole Miss.
Memphis long scouted Henry, sent representatives to his games and followed his career. Henry finished ranked 28th on the all-time scoring list with 1,095 points, tied for second in career games played (132) and fifth in blocked shots (113).
He was only the second player in Ole Miss history to collect 1,000 points and 100 blocks.
“What I heard the most is I need to rebound more,” he said. “They always need you to rebound as a spot four in the NBA. It’s just a matter of me going in and rebounding. I can improve everything, every point of my game. But that’s the main focus they pointed out for my game.”
He’ll arrive in Las Vegas, home of the Grizzlies’ summer camp, the first of next week.
And he’ll have to prove himself each day. The goal is to keep his name on the roster. There’s always the looming rain cloud of getting cut. Final NBA rosters are released in late October, early November.
“I know how that Vegas nightlife is,” Henry said. “I’m hoping to win big.”
He’s got jokes. Mostly, though, he’s got drive; a drive to earn his spot, to show the Grizzlies he belongs.
“Any give day, you can be cut from the roster,” he said. “I’m just going to try to do whatever it takes to stay on the team. Pressure doesn’t exist unless you let it exist. That’s the beauty of it all. I get a chance to show myself.”