Mountain Pointe DeAndre Henry

DeAndre Henry made the Mountain Pointe High varsity football roster as a freshman tackle two years ago. He had college scholarship offers. Then he walked away from it. Now, he’s a college prospect in basketball.

It’s been seven months since Mountain Pointe tackle DeAndre Henry walked away from football.

“I had to do something I was passionate about,” Henry said. “If I played football and wasn’t passionate, and then had a major injury, then it wouldn’t be worth it. It was a hard decision but I’m glad I made it.”

Henry didn’t make the move to lie around lollygagging and playing video games. He’s also a college prospect in basketball, and over the last seven months has vaulted onto the radar of college hoops recruiters after reinventing himself.

Henry, a power forward, averages 12.2 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game, playing a vital role in the Pride’s 15-6 start. At one, Mountain Pointe was ranked 11th in the nation by MaxPreps, but a three-game skid after routing defending 6A state champ Pinnacle in December started six losses in 10 games and dropped them out of the national rankings.

Henry was among the few freshmen to make the Mountain Pointe varsity football team during the Norris Vaughan coaching era and then again as a sophomore. He was regarded as having potential in one of the state’s top programs at the time. At 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds, he gained national attention from Division I college programs.

Kansas State, Memphis and Arizona State offered Henry a football scholarship after his freshman year, while other programs, such as Alabama, began to show interest in the tackle the following season. 

Henry had something else in mind.

“I don’t regret making the decision,” Henry said. “I want to play something fun and do something I love. If I continued to play football through college, there may have been a bump in the road and I might have stopped playing and dropped out of college. I just had to follow my love.”

Henry consulted his family while making his decision. He blocked out opinions from peers who thought it was an unwise move.

There are times when Henry misses football, he concedes, especially during the fall when he sees his former teammates playing on Friday nights.

He said that he feels more at home on the court, yet the transition to basketball full-time wasn’t easy when he was pushing 260 pounds after his sophomore football season.

“I was big, goofy and I ate everything,” Henry said. “I dropped the soda, all of the sugar and the carbs. I started hitting the weight room a lot. My body just changed. It transformed me.”

Henry started working with a trainer every morning at 5 a.m., something he still does. By last June, when he made his decision to quit football, Henry had slimmed down to 220 pounds. And he has grown. He now is listed on the roster at 6-8.

“His work ethic is better than anybody,” Mountain Pointe basketball coach Kirk Fauske said. “He knew after he dropped football he had to outwork people and go harder.”

It paid off. Henry received his first Division I basketball offer from the University of South Dakota in December.

Henry attributes some of his improvement to playing against MP’s 6-foot-10 senior center Jalen Graham, who recently committed to Arizona State, every day in practice.

It’s heated competition between two of the most competitive players on the roster and it benefits both of them.

“He is taller than me and has more length but when I put the body on him it slows him down,” Henry said.

Henry makes it a personal battle to limit Graham’s moves to the basket during practice.

“That spin move right there? Yeah, I had to get back into it,” Henry said. “But that’s my brother. I love going against him.”

The Pride need Henry inside to complement Graham, who typically draws a crowd of defenders.

Fauske is confident that Henry will continue to deliver.

“That kid is so competitive,” Fauske said. “You see it right now. He gets mad when Jalen scores on him. He’s taken that and put it all on the court. He’s hungry.”

Have an interesting story? Contact Zach Alvira at zalvira@timespublications.com and follow him on Twitter @ZachAlvira.

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