Many players in the Big East have a case to be the Player of the Year, but Providence’s LaDontae Henton has the strongest. Here are three reasons why the Lansing, Michigan native will win Player of the Year on Wednesday.
1) His scoring is off the charts
If you look up the word, "scoring" the dictionary, there is a good chance that a picture of Henton dunking a basketball is waiting for you. Not really, but you get the picture. Henton leads the conference in points per game with 20.1 and also has averaged 6.3 rebounds during his senior season. It is not just recently that Henton has lead the conference in scoring. Henton has done it for almost the entire season and is the wire-to-wire scoring champion in conference play.
Henton has played in all 31 of his team’s games to this point of the season. In those game, he has scored in double figures 28 times. In those same contests, Henton has scored 20 points or more 17 times and 30 points or more twice this season, including a 38-point performance against Notre Dame in nonconference play. Henton is great at getting to the basket and scoring or drawing fouls, but his outside shooting has to be respected too. He can hit three pointers and has shown a number of times that he can carry the team. He is the best scorer in the conference, which already puts him at the front of the class for Player of the Year.
2) Henton’s leadership and durability have been outstanding
Yes, I know Kris Dunn has been great and does provide leadership for the Friars, but so does Henton. As a senior, Henton, on and off the court, has been an important leader on the team. Whenever the Friars need a basket they have relied on him. In his four years at Providence, Henton has improved almost every season and the jump that he made from his junior season to this year was impressive. Henton’s points per game increased by over six points from a season ago and his field goal percentage is at 45.8 percent, which is the highest of his college career.
The development of Henton is impressive in itself, but the fact that he is having the best season of his career while leading his team to another NCAA Tournament puts him over the top in the Big East Player of the Year conversation.
Add in the fact that Henton has averaged 36.8 minutes per game this season and played at least 30 minutes in 28 games. Henton has played in all 40 minutes of a game seven times, which does not count the 45 minutes he played in the overtime win over Georgetown back on Jan. 10. LaDontae is LaDurable.
3) Where would the Friars be without him?
Without the scoring of Henton, it is hard to calculate where the Friars would be, but they certainly would not be dancing. One could make the argument that they might even be in the bottom half of the conference without his 20 points per game. Dunn is very important, but cannot score at the same rate as Henton. If there was one player on a team in the Big East that could ill afford to miss a game for their respective school it would be Henton for the Friars. Who would they turn to? Dunn, of course, but then it gets really thin on the roster. Tyler Harris averages 10.4 points per game, but, after that, no player averages more than seven points for the Friars. Ben Bentil has shown that he can play at times, but Coach Ed Cooley would certainly not be able to depend on him for many points without Henton on the floor. Without Henton, the Friars would not be able to survive this extremely tough conference. Next year will be difficult for Providence after he graduates.
It does not matter if we are talking Big East Player of the Year, or Most Valuable Player in the conference, Henton is both. His scoring, leadership and durability put him above any other player in the Big East.