Basketball player Marshall Henderson is quickly becoming a living legend at Ole Miss.
In the words of How I Met Your Mother playboy character Barney Stinson,"He's legend...wait for it... dary!"
Not since the two-time Super Bowl MVP Eli Manning played for the Rebels nearly a decade ago has an Ole Miss athlete garnered such love and attention from the fans in Oxford.
While his status has been slowly building all season, Rebel fans will forever talk about the Vanderbilt game as Henderson's national coming-out party.
In a game in which the Rebels prevailed, Henderson squared his shoulders and sank a near half-court three-point launch with seconds remaining to send the game into overtime.
The 2011-2012 Junior College Player of the Year, Henderson shows more heart and passion than any player in college basketball this season. Often maligned by the media and opposing teams for wearing his emotions on his sleeve, it's nearly impossible not to be a fan of the flashy Rebel floor leader.
He is what makes college basketball so great. He opens his heart and shows the crowd what he's feeling every single game.
He's leading the SEC in scoring, averaging 19.2 points per game. He's made 3.9 three-point buckets per game (good for fifth nationally) and has made 27 more three-pointers (74 total) than his nearest competitor in the conference (47 by Texas A&M's Elston Turner).
He also leads the SEC in free throw shooting, making 86.7 percent of his attempts.
The statistics are great and could be analyzed all day long, but it's Henderson's pure passion for the game and "leave nothing on the floor" attitude that separates him from other premier players in Ole Miss basketball lore.
There have been Rebel greats—like Denver Brackeen, Don Kessinger, Johnny Neumann, John Stroud, Sean Tuohy, Carlos Clark, Rod Barnes, Gerald Glass, Keith Carter, Ansu Sesay, Jason Harrison, Rahim Lockhart, and, most recently Chris Warren—but none had quite the flair for drama that defines Henderson's play from opening tip to final buzzer.
Whether fervently engaging the Ole Miss student section, Club Red, or feeding off taunting from opposing teams, Henderson displays his heart on the floor more than any player in recent memory.
Some in the media feel Henderson may be too expressive with his emotions, but you have to admire a student-athlete who plays for the love of the game and can make an entire arena come to its feet in a matter of seconds. He has the "it" factor, and it's impressive.
So, where does the Henderson legacy grow from here?
In the midst of a run to be remembered for the ages in Oxford, Henderson already has led the Rebels to their best start in school history, 17-2 (6-0 in the SEC). With 12 conference games remaining before entering SEC and NCAA Tournament play, the junior star has really only begun to show what he can do.
Heck, he's still got another full season in Oxford.
If I were a coach or player sitting in front of the television on Selection Sunday watching to see which team I would be playing in the NCAA Tournament, Henderson's Rebels would be the last team I would want to draw in the first round. Henderson is about as hard to contain as Texas A&M QB Johnny "Heisman" Manziel.
That's quite tall talk.
At this rate, Henderson may go down as one of the most loved Rebel greats of all time.
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