Girls Basketball: Q&A with Sickles' Amber Henson

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Tue. November 17, 2009 | Eduardo A. Encina

TAMPA -- When siblings John and Amber Henson moved to Tampa from Texas last summer, most of the attention was placed on big brother. John was, of course, the No. 3 recruit in the nation and already committed to North Carolina.

But with John now in the starting lineup at UNC, the spotight has turned to Amber, Sickles' 6-foot-4 center. She's already ranked the fourth-best junior in the nation by ESPNU -- and the country's best overall forward prospect.

Before a practice last week, Henson took time to talk about the upcoming season, the whirlwind recruiting process, crazy Internet rumors and emerging from her brother's shadow.

Q. Last year, maybe people knew you as John Henson’s litter sister? Now that he’s at North Carolina, is it time to see Amber Henson?
A. It’s always good. My brother’s opened doors for me everywhere and I’ve just got to walk through them and show everybody what I can do and start breaking out of that mold where I’m kind of in his shadow.

Q. What’s the first word you think of when I mention recruiting?
A. Confusing. There are so many different schools that are calling and want me to call. I’m just trying to take it slow, not make a decision too early. I want to weigh out my options. I know everyone’s pushing the North Carolina thing. I just want to go where I’m going to be happy because I’m the one who is going to stay there for four years.

Q. What was your reaction when you heard that a Virginia newspaper reported that you were already committed to North Carolina over the summer?
A. I was surprised. I was like, ‘Who in Virginia knows my name?’ How did they come up with that? I don’t know where that came from.

Q. It all boggles the mind sometimes, doesn’t it? All the blogs, message boards, rankings...
A. My dad’s always told me that no matter what you do there are going to be people out there judging you but you just have to live to the best of your ability. When it all comes down to it, it’s not about the rankings or who someone thinks is the better player. That’s just what somebody sitting in that room thinks. It would be great if I got up to the No. 1 spot by my senior year, but if it doesn’t happen, I just know I have to keep working hard.

Q. You’ve narrowed down your colleges a bit, but are there must-visits for you right now?
A. In January, I’m going to visit Duke. I’ve been to North Carolina a billion, zillion times. I visited Florida a while back and I may take a visit to Stanford and Maryland pretty soon, too.

Q. Having received all this national attention, does it fuel you or do you shy away from it?
A. I kind of shy away from it because I’m not used to it. I’m used to just standing behind my brother and people saying, ‘Oh that must be his sister.’ It’s kind of nice. Sometimes it’s hectic, but it’s okay. I just try to not let it get to my head.

Q. You missed about four weeks with a broken wrist over the summer. How was it dealing with injury when the summer club ball circuit is in full gear?
A. It was actually kind of a nice break. I still went to practices, but it was good to focus kind of on the mental part of the game. It was tough coming back, but once I got in the swing of things, it was fine. Thank goodness it wasn’t serious. Broken bones are pretty easy to come back from.

Q. What do you first think of when you think of last year, when Sickles was knocked out in the region semifinals?
A. There was disappointment, but it was also setting a standard. It was my sophomore year. We had a young team. This year we want to strive to go above that.

Q. So what makes you think you can do that?
A. We return everyone. Everyone’s been working hard in the summer. Our two starting seniors, they’ve been getting better. We just have a solid team.

Q. Over the summer, you went to Point Guard College. Should we expect to see some ball ballhandling from you this year?
A. It was fun. I learned a lot of things. It was a lot of classroom things. It really helped me with my ballhandling and finishing moves. … I’ll bring the ball up every once in a while.

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