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After 3 years at tiny Campbell, Cedric Henderson Jr. ready for ‘big stage’ of playing at Arizona

arizona-wildcats-college-basketball-cedric-henderson-campbell-camels-duke-kerr-kriisa-tommy-lloyd Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

Cedric Henderson Jr. has played in some loud and raucous buildings during his college career, none more so than last November when he and his Campbell Fighting Camels took on Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Little did Henderson know that, less than a year later, he’d be playing in what he expects to be an even more boisterous environment.

“Honestly, I think McKale will probably be louder,” Henderson said Tuessday. “Duke is a great environment. It’s loud, but there’s not as many (people). I think McKale is going to be a lot more rowdy.”

Henderson scored 18 points and had 11 rebounds in that game at ninth-ranked Duke, a 67-56 loss in which Campbell led by 10 early in the first half and only trailed by one with less than 14 minutes to go. That performance, one of two double-doubles he had last season along with a 20-point, 11-rebound effort at VCU, proved to Henderson that he could play on a “big stage.”

And after the 2021-22 season, his third at Campbell and fourth in college after a season at the JUCO level, Henderson decided he wanted that big stage on a more regular basis. Arizona was one of the first schools to contact the 6-foot-6 guard, whose only knowledge of the Wildcats was from what he’d seen in bits and pieces catching the first half of games while on the East Coast in Buies Creek, N.C.

After a little more study, though, he realized the program Tommy Lloyd had built in his first season was something he wanted to be a part of. He visited Arizona in early June, committing not long after.

“It was really about the skill work and the fact that Tommy is so big on getting guys better,” Henderson said. “And playing as a team and winning.”

Henderson said UA point guard Kerr Kriisa told him during his visit that Lloyd was a “players’s guy,” and he found that out quickly after arriving in Tucson.

“There’s not many coaches, at least that I know of, that just go in when you’re doing an individual workout just see how it’s going and put his input in,” he said.

Henderson averaged 13.7 points and 4.8 rebounds in 87 games at Campbell, and last season posted a career high rebounding average (5.6) to go along with 14 points per game. He shot 49.8 percent from the field and 38 percent from 3-point range, taking more than 70 percent of his shots from within the arc.

“I’m a good cutter, I can shoot,” he said. “I shot pretty well last year and I expect to honestly shoot better this year.”

Henderson said he’s most excited about being able to do more pick-and-rolls, something he only got a few opportunities to do at Campbell. He’s also excited about the tempo at which Arizona plays, which is vastly different than what he’s used to.

Campbell ran the 14th-slowest offense in the country last season, per, 62.4 possessions per 40 minutes. Arizona was ninth-fastest, at 72.2.

“This is one of the fastest places in the country,” Henderson said. “Where I was at Campbell was a slow pace. We were very slow. It was a good concept, though. It taught me a lot, especially about cutting and learning basketball as a whole.”

As for his role with the UA, Henderson will most likely come off the bench and play both the 2 and the 3, subbing in for Courtney Ramey and Pelle Larsson. He said he can play (and guard) anywhere from the 1 to the 4, referring to himself as versatile.

“That’s something I’ve always been proud to say,” Henderson said. “From playing guard to playing forward, depending on what’s needed in that situation.”

Henderson, 22, is the son of former NBA player Cedric Henderson Sr., who played for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors between 1997-2002. He said his father never pushed him to follow in his footsteps.

“He let me to kind of experience all sports, let me take my time,” said Henderson, who played soccer, baseball, football and track before settling on hoops. “But when I told him I really wanted to be serious about basketball he was all for it. He taught me the ropes and taught me really how to play.”