Henderson Remembers Role

Three years ago, J.R. Henderson was the man of the moment, a freshman at the free-throw line with less than a second remaining in UCLA’s Wooden Classic game against Kentucky at the Pond of Anaheim, and the Bruins trailing by a point.

Charles O’Bannon had fouled out, and Henderson, the reserved reserve, was on the line.

“I’ll never forget that,” said Henderson, who calmly swished both free throws to give UCLA one its most dramatic victories of that national-title season. “To be in that type of situation was just unbelievable.

“Seems like 15 years ago. . . . That’s when I liked pressure. There was never any pressure on me, so I liked it.”

Today, Henderson, the Bruins’ only experienced big man, has the pressure of facing New Mexico’s battleship-bodied Kenny Thomas, one of the strongest and most complete big men in the nation.


“I’ve played against all kinds of wide bodies,” Henderson said. “Tall ones, short ones, 7 feet . . . Big Country [Bryant Reeves]. . . . You’ve just got to deal with those big, tall, wide bodies. Best thing is just use your quickness.”