TAMPA — John Henson never forgot his roots.
After playing basketball at Sickles High School, then moving on to play basketball at perennial national powerhouse the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, then being drafted and signing with the Milwaukee Bucks in 2012 NBA Draft, the former Gryphon is coming back home. He may have only played his senior year at Sickles, but he did lead the team to the state regional semifinals.
Henson will host the basketball clinic at the Tampa Bay Youth Sports Expo on July 19. Kids ages 7-17 can learn about the sport of basketball, both on and off the court, from Henson.
Henson played for three years at North Carolina and has been one of the few shining stars of a Bucks franchise that had a league-worst record last season, winning only 15 games.
Henson said that while Milwaukee winters are not as pleasant as those back in Tampa, he is trying to look at the positives of being with a franchise that has nowhere to go but up.
“It was tough last year, but I am in on the ground floor of something in Milwaukee and we can only look up,” Henson said, calling from the Tampa International Airport on his way in for summer break. “We have some talent and we get a good pick in the draft this year. We hit bottom; now we have nowhere to go but up.”
Henson averaged 11.1 points last year as the man in the middle for the Bucks. At 6-11, he’s a dominant shot blocker and easily the best player in the history of Sickles High School. Henson, whose sister, Amber, plays for North Carolina’s arch-rival Duke, said he’s happy in Milwaukee despite the growing pains of playing for a team that is trying to turn itself around.
“It’s so much different now than it was in high school and college,” Henson said. “I have to be a man now. It’s all different because there’s a lot more freedom in the NBA. I don’t have people telling me what to do and where to be all the time. I had to grow up fast because, being in the NBA is like having a regular job.”
Henson will be running the camp at the Sports Expo himself. He’ll be representing Up2Us, a national nonprofit organization that is leading the way in its challenge to promote youth sports to local children.
“I believe that participating in sports has the power to truly transform the lives of our country’s young people,” Henson said.
The “John Henson Experience” will feature five sessions to be coached by Henson and a team of Up2Us coaches from all over America. All money will be donated to Up2Us to place coaches and mentors into the Tampa Bay community.
For more on the Tampa Bay Youth Sports Expo, check the website at tbyse .com.
Editor's note: A previous version of this story had a different date.