Andy Kennedy gets it.
He understands that college basketball’s must-see one-man act boosts his program and its profile.
Sure, the Rebels have warranted national attention after a strong start that led to a national ranking. But Ole Miss is often mentioned in college basketball’s daily dialogue in part because we’re all waiting to see what Marshall Henderson will do next.
Well, in case you missed it, Henderson did this following Saturday’s 84-74 win over Georgia in overtime (Nick Birdsong, AL.com, Birmingham News):
Marshall Henderson didn't stand up, stretch out both his arms, drop the mic, point at those facing him and exit stage right like Eddie Murphy's character "Randy Watkins" in "Coming to America" but the always confident and sometimes, cocky, depending on who you ask, might as well have.
Following his 25-point performance, including 10 straight at a critical juncture in the second half of the Rebels' 84-74 overtime win against Georgia, the skinny 6-foot-2 junior, who leads the SEC in scoring at 19.5 points a game, gave media members just one quote.
But boy was it memorable.
"If it's all the same," Henderson said. "It's Saturday night. I'm out."
Then, he proceeded to evacuate the premises at Tad Smith Coliseum.
Henderson, a junior in his first season in the league after leading South Plains College Texas) to an undefeated record at 36-0 and a JUCO national championship last season, has made a name for himself with his play and propensity to exercise his freedom of speech and say whatever he pleases.
He's a large reason why the Rebels began SEC play 6-0 and were ranked as high as high as No. 16 in the Associated Press Top 25 poll before dropping four of their past six.
When Kennedy was asked about the latest “Marshall being Marshall” moment on Monday’s SEC teleconference, he chuckled.
But he didn’t criticize the SEC’s top scorer (Henderson is averaging 21.3 ppg). He’s embraced him and his persona, which fueled Saturday’s “The King has left the building” moment.
“Marshall and I have constant dialogue about making good decisions,” Kennedy said during the teleconference. “That was all in fun. … He just has fun with a lot of things. Sometimes, I’m envious of his nature. He seems to be enjoying it a lot more than I am.”
But Kennedy is enjoying it, too.
Henderson is an enigma that’s made college basketball more interesting and intriguing in 2012-13.
Kennedy could police his star and provide public critiques of his antics. Instead, he acknowledges that he knew what he was getting into when he signed Henderson.
Is Henderson over the top sometimes? Yep. And I’m sure Kennedy challenges him when necessary.
He also recognizes, however, that it’s OK to have a little swagger, even at the collegiate level. He’s also smart enough to know that we wouldn’t be talking about his program as often if Marshall wasn’t so busy being Marshall.