LaDontae Henton was Ed Cooley's first recruit at Providence College. Cooley has the coaching carousel to thank for Henton being available that late in the recruiting season after current Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets coach Brian Gregory left the Dayton Flyers for the Atlanta-based school. The Lansing, Michigan native re-opened his recruitment and gave Ed Cooley a commitment on April 30, 2011.
More than 3 years later, Henton and Cooley have the Providence program trending up.
When "Buckets," as Henton is known by some, arrived in Providence in the summer of 2011 he had not had a haircut in approximately eight years and was 25 pounds overweight. To hear Cooley tell it, what Henton has done these last 3 years is simply grow up:
"When you look to recruit young men and you talk about chemistry and you talk about personality, this kid has it all. He doesn't need basketball to be successful. I know that it's his dream and I want him to have that dream but this young man has grown so much. I can't brag enough about him...To see how this young man has changed, how his focus is unbelievable, how his dedication to Providence College, because let's face it, when we went through all that negativity, everybody could've bailed on us. I love that young man and there's nothing in the world I wouldn't do for him."
A look at Henton's career stats shows he has been nothing if not steady. In his freshman season, he was thrust into the lineup and played 37.2 minutes per game, which still remains a career high. Ironically, that freshman season was a career year for him in a number of areas individually. In addition the the minutes load, he averaged career highs in point per game (14.3), rebounds per game (8.6), blocks per game (1.1), field goal percentage (.454) and 3-point field goal percentage (.393). Despite Henton's individual statistics moderately declining each season, the team success has increased. That success culminated in a Big East Tournament Championship, the school's first in 20 years, followed by an appearance in the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 10 years.
Henton averaged 25.2 points per game and 14.2 rebounds per game as a senior at Lansing Eastern High School. He was named the Class A Player of the Year in 2011 and finished runner-up for Michigan's Mr. Basketball to Dwuan Anderson. He will undoubtedly be one of the captains this season for the Friars and it's a role he has been looking forward to taking on. He has a chance to go down as one of the most productive Friars in the history of the program at Providence. And I have a feeling that when I'm writing game notes this winter there will be a lot of "Henton will pass Player X with another two Y's".
LaDontae Henton is a true "junkyard dog" who makes winning plays and does the dirty work. If he does not hit that elbow jumper late in the Big East Championship game against the Creighton Bluejays, the Providence Friars may not have held on to win. It will be fun to see Henton take the reigns a little more for his senior season and lead the 2014-15 Friar squad wherever they are headed.