From the stands to player, Henderson goes full circle with VCU basketball

Freshman guard Arnold Henderson recorded five points in the Black and Gold game. Photo by Alessandro Latour

Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor

A timeout is called, and the Siegel Center floor has sweat on it. A young boy clutches his floor wiper and runs onto the court to clean it up. 

Little did that boy know he would be playing for the Rams 10 years later. At the time, he didn’t think it was possible. 

“I was really young and I remember looking at all the players like they were eight feet tall,” freshman guard Arnold Henderson said. “I was just really excited to be out on the court with all the tall players, it felt really special.”

The Richmond native grew up going to VCU basketball games with his parents. He remembers the raucous crowd, the cheerleaders throwing T-shirts after a 3-pointer and the way the fans cared about the team. 

Henderson’s dream of playing for the Rams came true in the team’s intrasquad scrimmage on Oct. 12.

In the Black and Gold game this year, Henderson got to see what it was like on the other end of his childhood memories.

“I was very excited as soon as I stepped onto the court,” Henderson said. “A lot of energy flowing through my body out there.”

Henderson went 2-for-2 from the field, including a 3-pointer that brought the crowd to its feet. 

Coach Mike Rhoades noted the work that Henderson has put in this offseason after the Black and Gold game.

Arnold Henderson, kid’s a tough kid that battles every day,” Rhoades said. “[The freshmen] are building confidence playing against an older group.”

Henderson’s path onto the team wasn’t easy. It took a lot of hard work and determination to be a walk-on for the Rams. 

“There were many moments when I would think twice about it, ‘Is it really worth it?’ At the end it really is worth it if you put in the work, you’ll get a really good outcome,” Henderson said.

For Henderson, he realized playing college basketball was a possibility after his game-winning 3-pointer in his junior season.

“At that moment, I felt I could really go somewhere with this, I could be a really good player if I kept working,” Henderson said. “I kept working every day and I noticed how much better I was getting.”

He also received some pointers from a family friend and VCU legend Gerald Henderson, who played at VCU from 1974-1978. Gerald was the first player to have his number raised into the rafters of the Siegel Center.

There is no direct family relation between the two, but Gerald has given Henderson tips over the years. 

“He’s helped me a lot,” Henderson said. “He gave me a lot of advice when I was younger and he gave me tips that I have taken with me throughout my career.”

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