Northwestern Wildcats Lose Star Assistant Basketball Coach to Princeton Tigers

Nick KapetanContributor IApril 25, 2011

14 Mar 1998:  Guard Mitch Henderson of the Princeton Tigers listens to his coach Bill Carmody during a game against the Michigan State Spartans in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at the Hartford Civic Arena in Hartford, Connecticut.  Michigan Stat
Al Bello/Getty Images

With the circus that has unfolded in Northwestern country over John Shurna declaring for the NBA draft, news over an assistant coach leaving does not make headlines. Fans will realize that the "agent-less" Shurna will not leave school early just to become an undrafted free agent and life will go back to normal.

Shurna would be returning to a team that's only major loss on the court is bulldog point guard Michael "Juice" Thompson. However, it is a coaching loss that no one is talking about that might be a larger blow in the long run.

Last week, assistant coach Mitch Henderson accepted the head coaching job at his alma mater, Princeton University.

Henderson, who spent 11 years on Bill Carmody's bench, was hired for his ability to recruit players to buy into the Princeton style offense. While fellow assistant Tavaris Hardy strived in recruiting the inner city players, Henderson was more of a suburban extraordinaire.

He recruited the Glen Ellyn native Shurna, and was in the process of landing next year's top recruit, John Cannon. Cannon, a 6'11" center from the North Carolina suburb of Burnsville, would be the first reliable big man the school has had in its history.

With the loss of Henderson, Northwestern loses a star recruiter and a brilliant coach, who has been accredited with helping mold Thompson and Drew Crawford into offensive threats. The 'Cats' sudden rise to notoriety can be accredited to Henderson's ability to have suburban players, who would be stars on mid-major programs, to buy in on having a smaller role in a more complex offense.

The big question now for Northwestern is who will fill Henderson's void. Lead candidates include recent graduate and three-point assassin Craig Moore and current Director of Men's Basketball Operations Joe Kennedy.