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Sickles star Henson commits to Duke

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Sun. March 7, 2010 | Eduardo A. Encina

After being courted by nearly every major women's basketball program in the nation, Sickles All-American girls basketball star Amber Henson has decided her college future.

Henson, ranked the fourth best junior in the nation by ESPN, committed to Duke on Sunday evening, she told the Times by text message.

She was also considering North Carolina, Florida, Maryland, Stanford and Texas.

Just hours before Henson gave her commitment to the Blue Devils, the Duke women's basketball team won its first ACC tournament title since 2004 in Greensboro, N.C. The Blue Devils (27-5) are ranked No. 9 in the nation. But their success on the court was just one reason Henson chose to commit there.

"When I visited Duke I loved the campus and the coaches," Henson said. "I also like their medical program and they have a special program for student athletes who want to get into that field."

Henson said it was tempting to join her older brother, highly-touted 6-foot-10 freshman forward John Henson, at North Carolina, but she was confident in making her own decision and playing for the conference rival Blue Devils.

"Even though going to school with John would be great, I tried to ignore all the pressure to go there because of him and think about where I'd be most comfortable without him," Henson said. "But make no mistake, when he plays Duke, I will definitely be sitting being the Carolina bench in light blue supporting my brother."

The 6-foot-4 Henson, a Parade fourth-team All-American last year as a sophomore, led Hillsborough County in scoring this season, averaging 22.1 points a game. She also averaged 12.1 rebounds and a county-high 4.9 blocks. She also tallied and 20 double doubles.

Her junior season, in which she led Sickles to the Class 5A region final, drew visits from some of the nation's top women's coaches to Tampa to watch her games, including Duke's Joanne P. McCallie, Maryland's Brenda Frese and UNC's Sylvia Hatchell.

The Hensons moved to Tampa from Texas two summers ago and brought with them intense recruiting attention for both siblings. John, ranked the third best men's prospect in the nation, had already committed to North Carolina and Amber had already long been receiving recruiting interest. She received her first oral offer from Baylor in the eighth grade.

-EDUARDO A. ENCINA (eencina@sptimes.com)

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