- Joel Francisco
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One of the most rapid-rising big men in the Class of 2009, 6-10, 200-pound power forward John Henson of Round Rock, Texas committed Thursday to Roy Williams' North Carolina Tar Heels.
Henson did not play on the national circuit last spring and summer and as a result was somewhat under the 2009 radar screen. However, top college coaches knew about him and made trips to Round Rock to watch him play. Reportedly, this outstanding young athlete has grown 5 1/2 inches during the past 18 months.
Henson was born in Greensboro, N.C., and has grandparents living near Chapel Hill, N.C. Reportedly, he has lived in North Carolina, Tennessee, New Jersey and Texas.
According to the Charlotte Observer, Henson's father Matt said, "John has always liked North Carolina. When he was only 8 years old he told me, 'Dad, one day I'm going to play for North Carolina.'"
To the delight of Roy Williams, he will.
Henson chose the Tar Heels over Texas and UCLA and had offers from many top schools, including Memphis, Baylor, Texas A&M, Arizona, Southern California, Oklahoma State and others.
According to Round Rock coach Curtis Knight, "Henson had always been interested in the Tar Heels. And Coach Williams had a big impact on him in the way he came across with his concern and interest. Plus, John really likes their up-tempo style of play, since he loves to run the court."
Henson is averaging 24 points, 12 rebounds and 5 blocks this season, though he suffered a broken nose recently after getting an elbow to the face. Yesterday he underwent minor surgery to repair his nose.
"He is going to be a nice college player since he now has a 7-4 wingspan, and is still growing," said Knight.
"Doctors believe that Henson's growth spurt is not over, and that he could reach 7 feet. He's our go-to-guy and could possibly play on the wing in college. He's ambidextrous around the basket. Henson is a righty when shooting but would rather go left."
John Henson is North Carolina's first commitment from the Class of 2009. It earlier received a commitment from talented 2010 6-3 point guard Kendall Marshall (Arlington, Va./Bishop O'Connell).
Bob Gibbons is the editor and publisher of the All Star Sports Report and is widely regarded as the recruiting guru of college basketball. Drop Bob a line in his mailbag.