By Roy & Harv Schmidt
The persona of De LaSalle's Dre Henley began to rise this past summer when he earned an invitation to the prestigious Reebok All-American Camp on the basis of an outstanding performance at Reebok's underclassman camp in June. But even then, there were still people who were questioning whether or not he was worthy of the invite. However, make no mistake about it--after watching Henley last night at the Windy City Showdown, there is no doubt that he has hit the big time.
Last night at Loyola University's Gentile Center, in a game which matched De LaSalle against nationally ranked Detroit Country Day, Henley was clearly De LaSalle's best player. That in itself is a heavy statement when one considers that De LaSalle is loaded with talent, including our #1 ranked player in Illinois from the class of 2011--6'7 Mike Shaw--as well as one of the most improved point guards in the entire state in 5'11 Derek Needham, who is an absolute recruiting steal for Fairfield.
Henley scored 20 points and pulled down 8 rebounds versus Detroit Country Day and was the main reason why De LaSalle had their opponent on the ropes and was able to battle them to the end before suffering a 75-72 setback in overtime. Above everything else, Henley showed outstanding offensive versatility and floor leadership. As a result, we now believe that he deserves to be mentioned in the same breath with all of the elite players in the loaded 2011 class--Shaw, Mt. Carmel's Tracy Abrams, Curie's Wayne Blackshear, Whitney Young's Sam Thompson, Rock Island's Chasson Randle, Bartonville Limestone's Donovine Stewart and anyone else that anybody cares to throw in. There is absolutely no doubt in our mind that Henley is a high major prospect.
The bottom line is that Henley has proven that there is very little that he can't do offensively. At 6'5, he has tremendous upper body strength which allows him to be a consistent scorer in the post, as he pounds the glass and despite sometimes being at a height disadvantage he is capable of punishing opponents more often than not when he gets the ball down low.
However, there is no question that Henley's perimeter skills are every bit as refined as his post skills. He has an above-average handle, can put the ball on the floor and consistently beat opponents to the basket in one-on-one situations. And to top everything off, he is a smooth-shooting lefty with range that extends beyond the 3-point line.
But beyond his actual skill level, the thing that stood out to us the most about Henley was the leadership traits that he displayed. Last night on a national stage, it was Henley, along with Needham, who directed De LaSalle's offense the majority of the time. With that being said, Henley showed amazing poise and maturity, particularly in the most pressure-packed situations. It is therefore no wonder that at this time we tab De LaSalle as one of the two best high school teams that we have seen in Illinois so far this season, with the other being Waukegan (we have not yet seen Thornton, and no, we are not forgetting about North Lawndale, Whitney Young or Zion-Benton). Forget the final score of last night's game--it doesn't matter.
At the present time Henley's recruitment is not nearly as high-profile as that of most of the other top prospects in Illinois from the class of 2011. In fact, his only known scholarship offer to date is from Southern Illinois University. However, University of Kentucky assistant coach Tracy Webster was also in the house last night and was watching Henley closely. Not only is Kentucky highly interested, but we can virtually guarantee that they will be turning up the heat. And as word spreads regarding Henley (and it will spread quickly) we can assure everyone that between now and next spring his recruitment will reach new proportions.
To sum it all up, if there were still any doubters when it came to Henley prior to last night, those doubts should now be completely erased. And the best part about it is that Henley won't rest on his laurels. He has an outstanding work ethic and wants to continue to get better. As far as we are concerned, he already has. That is why any further accomplishments and success that comes Henley's way won't surprise us whatsoever.