Report: Ole Miss staff sought Henderson intervention six weeks ago
When I wrote yesterday about Marshall Henderson's suspension and Andy Kennedy's responsibility to him in the aftermath of Henderson more or less carrying Kennedy to a new contract extension, there were a couple of important caveats:
1) Henderson needed to take responsibility for his own problems and seek out help
2) Kennedy and his staff had not been aware of the problems and/or had turned a blind eye to them
As for No. 1, Henderson's tweets leading up to the announcement of the suspension and the short-lived Instragram video of Henderson that was posted and then quickly removed last night suggest that he still isn't taking this fully seriously (or at least doesn't understand the magnitude of his problem, or how to deal with it).
Per No. 2, we still don't know exactly what Henderson was doing during last season, but ESPN's Andy Katz reported earlier Thursday that Ole Miss' staff reached out six weeks ago to Chris Herren, a former Boston College star who battled and overcame serious drug addiction and now is a public speaker, author and advocate.
Katz's story states that Herren left a voice message for Henderson, but never received a return call.
Now, while law prohibits people from discussing specifically why Herren would have been put in touch with Henderson, it's pretty obvious why Herren would be brought in to speak to Henderson. Herron underscored that Thursday morning with the following tweet:
Enough on the Marshall Henderson suspension ..The kid is obviously battling a beast ...PRAY FOR HIM !!— CHRIS HERREN (@c_herren) July 11, 2013
So, it seems pretty clear that Ole Miss knew it had a growing problem on its hands at least a month and a half ago, and seems pretty safe to conclude that Henderson either failed another drug test subsequent to this reported staff intervention, and/or hasn't taken ownership of the problem to the staff's liking, leading to his indefinite suspension and reports of a possible rehab stint.
Whether the staff ignored similar warning signs and/or failed tests during the season is unclear (and, combined with whatever understanding was in place when Henderson came to the school, helps define the magnitude of the staff's obligations to Henderson going forward), but regardless, where this goes from here is now more heavily on Henderson. A person with an addiction has to want to get help, and to this point, it doesn't appear Henderson has been interested in that.
Now, maybe with his final college season and any kind of potential pro prospects threatened, there will be enough of a carrot. But this really is a bigger-picture problem than that. As Herren told Katz for his column, a basketball player's career is just the first third of his life. Hopefully, Henderson can see all of that more clearly at some point soon, and with the support of the school, save himself first and then potentially save his basketball career.
Update: Henderson apparently has now spoken with Herren.