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North Carolina announced today that reigning two-time ACC Defensive Player of the Year John Henson, who came to Sickles when his family relocated the summer before his senior season, has decided to forgo his senior season and enter the NBA draft.
"I've loved my three years at Carolina, and now I'm ready to pursue my dream of playing in the NBA," Henson said in a statement released by the school. "It's tough to leave because I love my teammates, coaches and UNC. I wish we'd been able to bring our fans a national championship, but it wasn't meant to be. I am proud of what we accomplished, especially the last two years."
In his career, Henson played in 109 games and finished with 1,124 points, 885 rebounds (11th all-time for the Tar Heels) and 279 blocks, good for second-most in school history. He was named first-team all-ACC this season, and is UNC's all-time leader with an average of 2.56 blocked shots.
Before Henson was a star for one of college basketball's most storied programs he was a can't-miss prospect in high school. He had committed to North Carolina before moving to Tampa, and he came with the billing as the No. 3-ranked player in the nation. In his year at Sickles, he averaged 17.6 points and 12.2 rebounds as the Gryphons went 24-5. He was selected to play in the McDonald's All-American game following his senior year.
Sickles coach Renaldo Garcia spoke with Henson today after his announcement.
"It was almost like a sigh of relief and he sounded extremely excited," Garcia said. "It's obviously a dream he's had for a very long time, and to be that much closer to it, it's a very good feeling."
Only three other Tampa Bay area prospects have been named a McDonald's All-American: Brandon's Dwayne Schintzius in 1986, Boca Ciega's David White in '87 and Tampa Prep's Casey Sanders in '99. The last Hillsborough County player to make it to the NBA was Brandon's Joey Graham, who was drafted 16th overall by the Toronto Raptors in 2005. The 2012 draft is June 28.
"He's had an awesome career and accomplished a lot, being named first-team all-ACC in one of the toughest conferences in college basketball," Garcia said. "In a three-year span, it's hard to find another person who has made improvements each year like John has."