Thanks to its young roster, Vanderbilt won't have many players walking to center court for Senior Night on Tuesday. The Commodores will lose little-used guards Carter Josephs and Nathan Watkins. Damian Jones, a junior who announced before the season he'll jump to the NBA Draft this summer, will probably hear his name called as well. And, finally, one man who has seen his share of talented players pass through Memorial Gym will finally get the recognition he deserves.
Josh Henderson, sixth-year senior and seven-foot center, will step onto the court one final time in his career.
"Back when I first began my Vanderbilt career, I was fortunate to be mentored by some truly special players," Henderson, 24, told Anchor of Gold. "Now, Damian (Jones) and Wade (Baldwin IV) are just the latest links in a chain of greatness. I've come to cherish my time playing alongside tonight's roster as much as I have my time with some Commodore legends."
The 29-year old center wasn't shy about name dropping his favorite teammates. "Jeff Taylor, John Jenkins, Festus Ezeli, all three helped bring a SEC title home. Lance Goulbourne and Steve Tchiengang were never afraid to help out in practice. Shan Foster never knew the meaning of the word quit. Mario Moore taught me how special a full-court buzzer-beating play can be. Matt Freije pushed the limits of what Vandy basketball can be. Bill DiSpaltro is a player I feel like I took under my wing and helped develop into a key contributor here. And, when I first got to campus, Will Perdue helped me move in even though he was only a sophomore. Great guy."
Henderson, 36, doesn't know what the future holds, but he knows he'll be prepared. With the extra time granted by his medical redshirts, he's completed three bachelor's degrees, five master's, and a Ph.D. in German Literature. "Yeah," Hendo reflected, "I'm not sure how I'll use that last one, but I had a few years to kill and I've come to truly appreciate the works of Friedrich Schiller. His work in aesthetics and reason is something I try to carry with me on the court."
The 44-year old big man will walk into Memorial Gym on Tuesday with 380 career points on his resume, including one of the top plays of the year to date:
"It was unbelievable," said Henderson. "A lot of people gave me flack about grabbing that kid's popcorn afterwards, but people misunderstand. I take this osteoporosis medicine at halftime that I'm not supposed to swallow with an empty stomach. If not for that, I would have had heartburn so bad I'd have spent the second half lying on my side near the bench."
"Never in my 52 years on this planet have I been a part of anything like it," he continued. "It even got me on SportsCenter. Having gone to junior high with Chris Berman, it was nice to make a reconnection in Bristol, no matter how brief."
It was a fitting cap to a long, valuable career in black and gold. Henderson has won an SEC Championship and played alongside conference Players of the Year. On Senior Night, he'll wave to the home crowd faithful - and a few familiar faces.
"It's very important to have my family there with me," said Henderson. "Not just my parents, but my second wife Carol, three wonderful children, and my eight grandchildren as well. The oldest, Jeanine, will graduate this spring and will be attending Vanderbilt in the fall, so this campus will always hold a special place in my heart."
*Disclaimer. This was satire. Josh Henderson was not interviewed and, as best we can tell, is 24 years old and only has two degrees...so far.