Bucks tantalized by skills of UNC's Henson

BY foxsports • June 19, 2012

ST. FRANCIS, Wis. -- If the Bucks want to add North Carolina power forward John Henson to the team's roster in the upcoming NBA draft, Milwaukee will have to trade up from its current position at No. 12. At least that's the feeling Bucks director of scouting Billy McKinney has after meeting with Henson and watching him go through a workout on Tuesday in Milwaukee.

"If teams saw what we did today, I suspect that he won't be there at 12," McKinney said. "Obviously we like him, but he's not going to be there at 12 when we select. It's a matter of, is it practical for us to move up? The teams that are ahead of us probably value him as much as we would."

The latest mock drafts on both ESPN.com and DraftExpress.com seem to agree with McKinney, with both placing Henson on the Detroit Pistons with the No. 9 overall pick.

Though the Bucks did not have an opportunity to interview Henson at the draft Combine, it's apparent they are quite interested in him. Prior to the Henson's workout on Tuesday, general manager John Hammond and assistant general manager Jeff Weltman took the lanky big man out to a private breakfast.

"It went well," Henson said. "We ate, we talked a lot. We got along. It was fun."

Henson, who measured 6-foot-10½ in shoes at the combine, played three productive college seasons in which his statistics improved in nearly every category each year. During his junior year, Henson averaged 13.7 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.9 blocks while making 50 percent of his shots.

While those numbers suggest that his offensive game is more than serviceable, Henson is best known for his defense. Henson's shot-blocking ability, in particular, has already earned him quite a reputation heading into the draft.

"One comparison recently has been (Serge) Ibaka," Henson said, referencing the NBA's leading shot blocker who's currently helping the Oklahoma City Thunder try to win a championship. "He blocks shots. There's no plays that they usually run for him because they have those crazy good scorers, so he hits the open shots and finishes where he can.

"That's the type of player I feel I can be right now."

While the Bucks have not been shy about publicly professing their desire to find a true center, Henson knows he's not that guy -- at least not right away.

"They are looking for a center as well, and I'm not ready to play the center position full-time yet," Henson said. "But I can step in there and give a guy some fits for a few minutes. It's something I'm trying to work on.

"I look at myself as a true 4 (power forward). However, there are guys that slide to the 5 (center position) even in The Finals. That's how the game is. The game is getting smaller, and thankfully for me, I'm coming into the NBA at the right time."

McKinney and the rest of Milwaukee's front office view Henson as a power forward who would be able to play center in certain situations.

"You don't have that many traditional back-to-the-basket centers in the NBA," McKinney said. "He'd have trouble with guys like (Indiana's) Roy Hibbert, who have the size and weight, but when you look at teams putting smaller lineups on the floor, he can play the center position in my mind."

Henson measured out nearly identical to current Bucks big man Larry Sanders, the team's first-round selection in 2010. Like Sanders, Henson's wingspan is 7-foot-5 and his standing reach is 9-foot-4.

Henson did not have a particularly impressive performance in the athletic testing at the Combine. His 25.5-inch no-step vertical and 30-inch maximum vertical were both lower than most were expecting, but it turns out Henson was not at full strength that day.

"I hurt my (right) ankle that week," Henson said. "Because of what I tested in the Combine, I decided not to do all the running and agility."

Due to his original results not meeting his own expectations, Henson re-tested at workout stops in Phoenix, Portland and Golden State. Though those new results aren't available, they were distributed to the rest of the NBA teams, and Henson said they were all significantly improved.

"The ankle is still not 100 percent, but I've got one more week to go," Henson said. "I'll be alright. A little setback, but that's basketball. It's nothing I can't get through. If a little ankle injury is going to put me out these two weeks, then I don't need to be playing basketball."

With a defensive-minded coach like Scott Skiles running the show in Milwaukee, Henson knows he could be the type of player the Bucks decide to draft.

"If he likes defense, then I'm his man for the job," Henson said.

But in order for that to even be a possibility, Henson will have to actually fall to No. 12. Or the Bucks will have to trade up.

Three more power forwards with high first-round talent will be in Milwaukee working out for the Bucks on Wednesday, with Baylor's Perry Jones III, Kentucky's Terrence Jones and Mississippi State's Arnett Moultrie all scheduled to appear.

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