NEW YORK - Gerald Henderson doesn't have to move very far, but the Episcopal Academy and Duke product may as well be in another world when he suits up next season.
Surrounded by his family last night at the WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden, the 6-foot-4 wingman was selected 12th overall by the Charlotte Bobcats in the NBA draft.
While he's staying in state and not far from Durham, he is entering Tar Heels territory - the Bobcats are coached by North Carolina alumnus Larry Brown and have another UNC alum as managing member of basketball operations in Michael Jordan. "There are a lot of Carolina guys over there, but that stuff ends once you get off the court," Henderson said.
Being from Philadelphia, Henderson grew up with Brown patrolling the 76ers' bench and is looking forward to playing for the legendary head coach.
"Coach Brown's great; I've known him since I was in middle school, him being in Philadelphia," he said. "I'm really looking forward to playing for them and learning a lot of things."
Henderson fills a need at the wing for Charlotte. Henderson plays tough defense - something the defensive-minded Brown loves - and will settle in as a backup for Gerald Wallace and Raja Bell.
"They got a good team," Henderson said. "They're young, Coach Brown really teaches the game, and they play the game right. This upcoming season should be fun. . . . We'll be great."
Henderson's father was a third-round selection, 64th overall, by the San Antonio Spurs out of Virginia Commonwealth in 1978. He never played for the Spurs; rather he began his career with the Celtics. He helped Boston win two championships and went on to play for a total of seven clubs, including the 76ers from 1987 to '89.
As any father would be, Gerald Sr. is proud of his son.
"He is going to a team that's got a great coach," the elder Henderson said. "Hopefully, he will get to play some so he can learn the NBA game. Coach Brown really knows that he has not tapped all that he has in the tank. And I am sure that it is going to be a really good relationship down there. He is going to do some good things.
"I wish I could get out there and help him," he said. "But I have to let him go and let him play and learn. He'll pick things up along the way."
"He just told me I made it," the new Bobcat said his father told him when David Stern announced his name.
"I worked so hard to get to this point and he just congratulated me. . . . It's good to hear those words."
In his first two seasons at Duke, Henderson didn't excel. That changed last season - his junior and last campaign in a Duke uniform. Henderson asserted himself as a legitimate NBA prospect, taking control of the Blue Devils, becoming their go-to player, and leading them to the Elite Eight. He led the Blue Devils in scoring, averaging 16.5 points, to go with 4.9 rebounds per game on the way to being named AP third-team all-American and first-team all-ACC.
"I worked on my skills, my shooting, my ball-handling, my defense and all that, but the big thing for me was really having a bigger ego when I was on the court," Henderson said. "Coach [Krzyzewski], last summer, told me that that was the biggest thing, to believe I was a great player. That was the first step. I took that attitude into the season."
And last night he reaped the benefits.
Contact staff writer Jorge Castillo