What's up with this Henderson State team?

I found myself asking this while I was at home over the holidays. Having nothing better to do, I looked up their roster and googled the players to see what I could find out. As it turns out, this team has a somewhat colorful past.
Let’s go down the list:

#1 Justin Udell (5’6″ Fr. guard) – Transferred from UALR as a freshman, and I can understand why they wanted him. As a senior in LR, Udell averaged 29.5 points and 8.5 assists per game. Guys with that kind of talent don’t come to Harding very often, but for some reason they flock to Henderson State…and play poorly.

#2 Ryan Johnson (6’1″ “Senior” guard) – He has the most interesting story. I seem to remember him as the player who inconsiderately (and nondescriptly) pulled down his shorts as his back faced the student section at the Rhodes Field House. Many of the Rhodes Rowdies might remember this, but many will not. Why? Because this guy has been around longer than Jimmy Allen. Not that there’s any comparison between Johnson and the famed Harding gospel preacher.

Where do I start? Johnson transferred to Henderson State after 3 years at the University of Memphis. At Memphis, he played three years of football as a wide receiver/kick returner, performing adequately enough to at least get some playing time. In Memphis’ 19-17 loss to Tennessee on 11/4/2000, Johnson fumbled the ball, leading to a UT field goal. Of course, the Vols went on to win by 2, so this was no doubt crushing to Johnson. The list is too long to put here, but Ryan played a lot of future NFL players in his 3 years there.

From a basketball standpoint, Johnson played in 4 games while at Memphis, all during his freshman year. He played all of 8 minutes, missing his only shot attempt, fouled someone, and turned the ball over twice. One of the games he played in, against DePaul, featured 3 future NBA players on the opposing team in Quentin Richardson (22 points, 14 rebounds in that game), Bobby Simmons, and Steven Hunter.

I’m not sure where all these years of eligibility are coming from, but Ryan is in his 7th year of college, is 25 years old, still has no degree (apparently, since he’s still “majoring in physical education”), and on top of it all, he’s not even that good at basketball. Last year, he was the worst regular player in the conference (by PER), and I thought for sure he was done. This year hasn’t been quite as bad, but he’s only been playing since the start of the new year (presumably because of eligibility issues).

#3 Donald Austin (6’3″ Sr. guard) – If you think my portrayal of these guys is unflattering, try the HSU site. All they say about Austin for 2004-05 is: “Sat out the season.” That’s all I needed to know. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

#5 Kelvin Brown (6’7″ Sr. forward) – I would be more eager to post about this guy if I didn’t legitimately fear for my safety. According to the HSU website, he can “play the 3 or position,” which probably means something to the guy who typed it, I guess. Okay, he probably just left out a 4.

Brown originally went to South Florida as a Top 100 recruit, but he transferred to Murray State after his freshman year. This article tells the story of why he probably left there. An excerpt: “Brown, the team’s second-leading scorer, was found hiding in a closet in the apartment, police said. He already was facing a warrant for allegedly leaving a service station without paying for gas earlier this month. Brown was charged with theft, possession of marijuana and a second offense of possession of drug paraphernalia.” UCA had a guy who looked like R. Kelly, and now HSU has a guy who was literally trapped in the closet. I wouldn’t suggest using any of this as taunting material, though, unless you’re really brave.

#10 Levi Harris (6′ So. guard) – Not surprisingly, here’s another high school star. Harris led his team to the 5A championship in Oklahoma, averaging 22 points and 6 assists per game.

#13 Donte Norton (6’2″ Jr. guard) – Norton may have played with Lonnie Smith at UA-Ft. Smith. As a senior at Delight, Norton averaged 19 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Norton is the son of former Razorback Ricky Norton.

#21 Brandon Daniels (6’5″ Jr. forward) – Went to Bethune-Cookman out of high school, but never played. Like much of the Reddies’ roster, he is older than I am (he’ll be 24 in April). Apparently he’s also majoring in “eecreation.” Someone needs to proofread their site.

#22 Antoine Vinson (5’11” So. guard) – Backup point guard, nothing to see here.

#23 Demontrian “Dee Dee” Drake (6’5″ Fr. forward) – Turns 24 next week, and he’s a freshman. Backup forward with some scoring ability.

#32 Randy George (6’8″ Jr. center) – Phenomenal rebounder from the British Virgin Islands, but of course he’s 25.

#33 Marques Collins (6’8″ So. center) – Has the size, but not the skill, of Randy George. Was a member of HSU’s band, which is called the “Showband of Arkansas.” Is a 22-year-old sophomore, three days older than I am.

#35 Larry Bray, Jr. (5’11” So. guard) – Son of former Reddie Larry Bray, whom he played for in West Memphis, but he has yet to appear in a game this year.

#42 Dedric Spooner (6’8″ Sr. center) – Spooner has mysteriously dropped off this year after a great 04-05 season. He is 24 years old, which is probably not far above the HSU average. He originally signed with UNC-Charlotte before a death in his family forced him to back out there.

#45 Brock Spurlock (5’8″ Fr. guard) – Spurlock has played only minimally this year. He’s not really a scorer, but he did average 9.2 assists in high school.


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