Josh Henderson used to post up in the SEC as a seven-foot center for Vanderbilt. Now, the former Commodore is forging a coaching career in the NBA.
Henderson, who played for Vanderbilt from 2010-16, is in his second season as a seasonal assistant for video and player development for the NBA Indiana Pacers.
"I'm trying to learn as much as I can right now," Henderson said. "I'm enjoying the NBA, learning a lot and getting the opportunity to work with great athletes and coaches."
Henderson played in 104 games at Vanderbilt from 2010-16, a career that was extended for a sixth season after Henderson received a medical hardship waiver from the NCAA. Injuries limited the Roanoke, Va. native to 16 total games during his redshirt freshman and redshirt junior seasons on West End. Vanderbilt applied for a hardship waiver from the NCAA, a request that was later granted and allowed Henderson to play in 31 games as a graduate student. He averaged 3.5 points and 2.2 rebounds during the 2015-16 campaign.
Following his Vanderbilt career, Henderson played professionally overseas in Bulgaria before returning to the states and working in banking in the Nashville area. Through a pickup basketball game, Henderson connected with former Commodore Drew Maddux, the head boys' basketball coach at Nashville's Christ Presbyterian Academy. Maddux offered Henderson a spot on his CPA coaching staff.
Now Henderson credits Maddox with helping him get back into the game.
"That restored my fire in basketball," Henderson recalled. "Being around high school kids, it's just a group that loves to play basketball. I enjoyed being around that again."
After a season at CPA, Henderson's Vanderbilt network helped him crack into the NBA. While visiting former Commodore Jeffery Taylor with the then-Charlotte Bobcats, Henderson befriended a member of the Bobcats' video team. That staffer later joined the Indiana Pacers and eventually reached out to Henderson about coming on board.
The seven-foot Henderson is now in his second season with the Pacers. He assists Indiana's video staff with cutting film and advanced scouting, traveling with the team to each game. Henderson also sits in on all Pacers' coaches meetings.
Plus, Indiana's staff uses Henderson on the practice floor with their big men.
"Through my prior basketball experience along with my height, I can be an extra big body," he said. "I have the ability to play a role on our scout team, assist in a player workout, or run a player workout." I'm used in a variety of ways and try to help my team in any way possible."
Through his NBA travels, Henderson said he maintains contact with former Commodores. He recently met up with Luke Kornet – now with the New York Knicks organization – while in the Big Apple. Henderson harbors fond memories of his Vanderbilt career, and fans still bring up the "Hendo Heave" as his most famous moment. Henderson drilled an 80-foot shot just before halftime during a Feb. 23, 2016 matchup with Florida in Gainesville. The shot gave the Dores a 40-35 lead, and they went on to beat the Gators, 87-74.
"I can always tell my kids I had the No. 1 play on SportsCenter," he joked. "It was obviously a highlight in my career."
Henderson said he hopes to continue coaching in either the NBA or college, an opportunity to stay close to the game he loves. His stint as a coach has allowed him to experience basketball from a different point of view, as well.
"I see the game from a new perspective now," Henderson said. "I'm working hard, learning, and trying to enhance my team every day."
Zac Ellis is the Writer and Digital Media Editor for Vanderbilt Athletics.