College basketball: Former Warriors standout Henderson takes over at St. Cloud State | college

Back in 2008, Quincy Henderson helped the Winona State men’s basketball team to its second national championship and third Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference championship in a vaunted three year span.

Now, 14 years later, he is returning to the NSIC to try to win a title for one of the Warriors’ rivals.

On May 18, Henderson took over the St. Cloud State men’s basketball program as the new head coach, and while he says his squad’s games against WSU will be no more important than the team’s other NSIC matchups, it might take some time to get used to being on the other side of things.

“It might be a little strange going against my alma mater, but I think that’s also pretty cool to have that,” he said.

Henderson’s journey through the coaching ranks started in a way he did not expect.

After his college career ended, he continued his playing career in the Southeast Australian Basketball League, playing three seasons with the Kilsyth Cobras. On the court, Henderson continued to thrive the way he did at WSU, winning defensive player of the year honors twice and leading the team to a 2010 division title while going to the playoffs all three seasons.

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Off the court, though, Henderson began to realize his passion for the game extended beyond just playing. During his final season in Kilsyth, he started coaching an under-18 youth team, and while it was more difficult than he expected. He also enjoyed it more than he thought he would.

“I thought it would be pretty easy. I knew the game, knew how to play, I had some success and thought I would roll in there, bark at the kids a little bit and they’ll shape up and do exactly what I tell them to,” Henderson said.

“I learned pretty quick that that’s just not how coaching works,” he added with a chuckle. “Through the trials of that season, I learned a ton but I loved every minute of it and shortly after that’s when I decided I want to get into collegiate coaching.”

After that first season in the coaching ranks, Henderson went back to his roots, serving as a varsity assistant coach at Madison La Follette High School for the 2011-12 season.

Then in 2012, he officially began his foray into collegiate coaching with a two-year stint as a graduate assistant at Division 3 Illinois Wesleyan while he worked on a master’s degree in sports management at Illinois State University.

Henderson stepped up into an assistant coach role in 2014 at Division 2 West Texas A&M, following as one of his former Warriors coaches Tom Brown took the head coaching position.

At both of his prior coaching stops, Henderson helped guide his teams to their divisions’ respective Final Fours, and when combined with his pair of national titles as a player, it gives him an experienced perspective on how to try to turn St. Cloud State into a champion.

“It’s certainly not an easy journey and it takes a lot of work and a little time to do that, but having an understanding of what championship caliber programs look like is certainly very helpful to me as I get underway here,” Henderson said.

It has been a couple down years in a row for the Huskies, finishing below .500 for the past two seasons, but the program has seen recent success with a 22-9 record in 2018-19 and a 24-9 mark in 2017- 18.

A key step in the rebuilding process will be Henderson’s ability to establish his recruiting network throughout the Midwest. And while he did not heavily recruit the Midwest down in Texas, his history as a player in Wisconsin and Minnesota, and a coach in Illinois, gives him a leg up on other incoming coaches.

It also is a personal point of pride for the former Warriors standout.

“Coming back to the Midwest, that was a huge draw from the get-go when this job opened up,” Henderson said. “I’ve still got the 608 area code number. I haven’t lived in Wisconsin since my high school days, but I’ve never ditched that. I plan on keeping that indefinitely. I’m a Midwestern guy.”

Andrew Tucker can be reached at andrew.tucker@lee.net or via Twitter @andrewjtucker16

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