RALEIGH (AP) — Terry Henderson has seen transfers thrive before at North Carolina State. Now it’s his turn.
The 6-foot-4 guard spent his first two seasons at West Virginia, but transferred to North Carolina State and sat out last season. Now he’s ready to take the court, providing a desperately needed perimeter scorer after a year spent improving his game and settling in at a school back in his hometown.
“I’m not Ralston Turner or Trevor Lacey,” Henderson said in an interview with The Associated Press, citing two of the Wolfpack’s recent transfer success stories. “I’m Terry Henderson. I’m a player. I’m here to win. I wouldn’t have come to this school if I didn’t think we had a good chance of winning.”
Henderson’s arrival is perfectly timed for a team with a thin roster. Lacey surprised the coaching staff by leaving early to pursue a professional playing career and forward Kyle Washington transferred, leaving just six scholarship players back from last year’s rotation for a team that reached the NCAA Sweet 16.
Henderson and instate freshman Shaun Kirk will bolster those numbers, with Henderson slated for a key role alongside point guard Anthony “Cat” Barber — and likely all the minutes he can handle due to that short bench.
“Anything I can do to help this team, then that’s what I’m going to do,” Henderson said. “If it has to be scoring, I’m going to score. If it has to be playing defense on somebody else, I’m going to do it. I’m just here to win and give the fans something to cheer about.”
He seems in the perfect landing spot considering how well coach Mark Gottfried has utilized Division I transfers to make the Wolfpack an every-year NCAA Tournament team.
In his first year, North Carolina State added Alex Johnson from Cal-State Bakersfield as a graduate transfer and valuable reserve. Next came Turner, who left LSU and gave the Wolfpack a reliable perimeter scorer and outside shooter for two seasons.
Lacey followed, leaving Alabama to become an all-Atlantic Coast Conference guard with a knack for hitting big shots before leaving the program after only a year.
The formula has worked. N.C. State had missed the NCAAs for 15 of 20 seasons before Gottfried’s arrival, but the coach is 4-for-4 with two Sweet 16 trips.
“Our phone is ringing now more,” Gottfried said. “People are calling: ‘Y’all have done a great job with transfers.’ We’ve actually tried to slow it down a hair. We’re not wanting to build a program with a lot of transfers. But if it’s a guy in the right spot, it has become a good thing for us.”
Henderson fills a need with both Lacey and Turner gone. He averaged 11.7 points in his final season under Bob Huggins in Morgantown, West Virginia, and shot 39 percent from 3-point range in his two years with the Mountaineers.
Gottfried said the Wolfpack coaches pushed Henderson to improve his ball handling and his ability to finish at the rim to prepare him for playing both guard positions if needed. He also noted that Henderson had occasionally led his teammates in rebounding during offseason workouts and scrimmages.
Rising sophomore Abdul-Malik Abu compared Henderson’s “hard-nosed tendency” to that of Tony Allen with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies.
“You may not know it (during a game) but he fills it up on the stat sheet,” Abu said. “He fills up on the rebounds, steals, blocks. He does a little bit of everything.”
Henderson doesn’t sound worried about the Wolfpack’s thin roster, preferring instead to talk about a group toughened by another successful March run. And he’s also already mentoring another transfer coming up right behind him in Torin Dorn Jr., the Conference USA freshman of the year who left Charlotte for North Carolina State and will sit out this winter.
“I can’t wait to get out there, right now,” Henderson said. “If we could play tomorrow, I would play tomorrow. Unfortunately we have a few more months.”