Princeton hires ex-player Mitch Henderson as coach

Princeton hires ex-player Mitch Henderson as coach

Published Apr. 20, 2011 9:10 p.m. ET

Mitch Henderson is coming back to Princeton to replace former teammate Sydney Johnson as the Tigers' basketball coach.

This will be the first head coaching job for Henderson, who spent the past 11 seasons as an assistant at Northwestern under Bill Carmody, another former Princeton coach.

Henderson, who helped Princeton reach the NCAA tournament three times in the late 1990s, will take over a team that shared the Ivy League regular-season title and nearly upset Final Four-bound Kentucky in the first round of this year's tournament.

The Tigers reached the tournament on a last-second basket by Douglas Davis in a one-game playoff with Harvard. Johnson left Princeton earlier this month to take the coaching job at Fairfield.


''I've never stopped being a fan since I've graduated,'' Henderson said. ''When Doug's shot went through the net, I jumped off my couch, I was so happy. I was excited for Sydney and his staff, and for the team. I feel like I know our guys already.''

Athletic director Gary Walters said working at Northwestern prepared Henderson because both schools were committed to developing both the athlete and the student.

''This is an exciting segue in the great tradition of Princeton basketball,'' Walters said. ''We look forward to the future with a heightened sense of anticipation and excitement. Mitch played on some of Princeton's best teams with passion, energy and integrity, values that also reflect his approach to coaching.''

A 1998 graduate, Henderson has long been a part of Princeton basketball lore. A picture of him leaping to celebrate the Tigers' 1996 first-round win over UCLA is one of the most well-known in Princeton basketball history.

The point guard also celebrated a first-round NCAA win over UNLV in 1998, a season in which Princeton (27-2) was ranked as high as seventh and earned a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Since graduating, Henderson played part of the 1998-99 season in Ireland and was with the Atlanta Hawks in January 1999 before joining the Lendx Corporation of San Francisco as a research associate.

Henderson joined Northwestern in 2000 to work for Carmody, his coach for his final two seasons. Hall of Fame coach Pete Carril coached Henderson in his first two seasons.

''I'm so excited about the opportunity to coach here,'' Henderson said. ''I'm eager to get going with growing on what Sydney has been able to do here the last four years.''