Henson to return to Duke women's basketball for fifth season in 2015-16
Senior forward Amber Henson has undergone six knee surgeries and missed nearly two full seasons as a Blue Devil. But with two years of eligibility remaining and a promising young squad returning, the resilient forward will be in Durham for at least one more go-round.
Henson announced her decision to return for a fifth year Tuesday. After undergoing six knee surgeries in her time at Duke, the Tampa, Fla., native has two seasons of eligibility remaining and will spend the 2015-16 school year attending the Fuqua School of Business.
“I am really excited about the decision,” commented Henson. “It is finally good to get it out there and stop having to answer questions about it and thinking about it so much.”
This season marked a career high in games and minutes played by Henson, who suffered a knee injury in high school that has created a nagging problem for the 6-foot-4 forward. Averaging 4.1 points and 3.9 rebounds—both also career highs—Henson has started 14 games this season and has finally begun to show the potential Duke head coach Joanne P. McCallie saw in her four years ago.
“I am absolutely thrilled,” McCallie in the press release. “I kept thinking in my mind because she is not going to come back, graduate and go on with her career just because it wouldn’t hurt so bad when she left. The fact that she has made that decision to be at Duke and pursue her master’s degree—we are so thrilled.”
In time with the Blue Devils, Henson played just eight games in her first two seasons after missing the majority of her freshman campaign and the entirety of her sophomore season. As a junior, Henson played in 27 games—starting five—and averaged 1.7 points and 1.7 rebounds.
Following the departure of Sierra Calhoun and loss of Oderah Chidom to injury, Henson’s progression on the offensive end of the floor continued to grow and has now led to her earning a slot in the starting rotation for the past five games.
If Henson continues to grow as a scorer, she should be a much-welcomed post presence come the 2015-16 season, as the Blue Devils will return standout freshman forward Azura Stevens but lose senior center Elizabeth Williams. McCallie viewed this season as a time for Henson to readjust to the college game and has high expectations for the future.
“What she can do for our teams is phenomenal and what she does for the student body at Duke is also phenomenal,” McCallie said. “She deserves a chance to really, really see what she can do, after a year to get her feet and balance under her a little bit.”
Henson will graduate Duke with a public policy degree in May. She has already taken the GMAT and is currently undergoing the application process for the master of management studies at Fuqua—a one-year program.
“When you are hit with adverse circumstances like injuries and things, you try to make the best out of it,” Henson said. “To be able to go to school...and get two degrees from a school like Duke is really an amazing opportunity I couldn’t pass up.”
Although the academics were part of the decision, with an opportunity to leave Duke with two degrees, Henson also pointed toward the young core of the Blue Devils as a key factor in her decision to return. Duke has posted a 21-10 record so far this season and though her focus is on the coming NCAA tournament, Henson said the opportunity to return to a talented Duke team was enticing.
“A big part of my decision was the young players like Rebecca [Greenwell], Azurá [Stevens], Kendall [Cooper] and Oderah [Chidom],” she said. “They are great players. To be back with them, I know we are going to accomplish some great things in the future.”