A pair of prospects look to reverse trend and become two-sport stars
NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C. --
Henderson, from St. Paul, Minn., and Brown, from Memphis, Tenn., are two of the better players at this weekend's Nike Peach Jam. Coaches from across the nation would love to have the 6-foot-7, 305-pound Henderson patrolling the paint or the 6-5, 205-pound Brown on the wing. But another set of coaches covets Henderson and Brown even more. Henderson, a rising junior at Cretin-Derham Hall, may be the top offensive tackle prospect -- and possibly the top overall prospect -- in the class of 2010. Brown, a senior at Harding Academy, is ranked as the nation's No. 2 receiver in the class of 2009 by Rivals.com.
And each wants to do double duty in college. "That's what I want to do," said Henderson, a gentle giant who usually gets his way on the field and on the court.
Starring in two sports has grown more difficult in the age of paranoid millionaire coaches. Earlier this decade,
Now, football coaches, worried that allowing players any time away from the football program will spell immediate doom, have nearly killed off the two-sport star. West Virginia backup quarterback
At the moment, Brown's list is a who's who of football powers -- with UCLA and Stanford also in the mix. With offers from practically every school in the top 50, Brown pared his list to Florida, Georgia, LSU, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA and USC. Not coincidentally, all 10 of his semifinalists made the NCAA Tournament in basketball at least once in the past three seasons, and four (Florida, LSU, Ohio State and UCLA) have advanced to the Final Four in the past three seasons.
Brown will have several high-powered coaching tag teams recruiting him. It's tough enough to say no to one coach, but how does a player say no to
All that interest has made for a busy summer for Brown. "I've been to Stanford, UCLA, USC and Tennessee," Brown said. "All this summer." On top of that, he has played for the YOMCA Team Memphis traveling squad. Still in the works are an unofficial visit to Florida and the AAU national tournament in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
A basketball assistant at one of the schools on Brown's list said the Harding Academy star certainly has the basketball skills to play anywhere he chooses. Saturday morning, Brown quietly piled up 25 points in a win against Baltimore-based Team Melo. While Brown doesn't do anything flashy, he chooses his shots well, he takes care of the ball and he covers his man like -- what else? -- a lockdown defensive back.
Henderson, meanwhile, is a road grader on the football field and a mighty road block on the court. Opponents can't box him out, and they seem shocked when they realize he can jump and run like a player half his size. Henderson, the sixth man on the Howard Pulley Panthers traveling team, spent much of Saturday night guarding Oklahoma City, Okla., star
Henderson said he loves both sports equally, though the affair with hoops did begin first. "I started playing basketball in third grade," Henderson said. "I started playing football in fourth grade. I went from there."
So where will Henderson and Brown go from here? Will they be allowed to follow their hearts and play both sports, or will they be forced to choose?
Also in the tournament is Rising Stars Gold guard