Following a promising four-year collegiate career at Kansas State (which was highlighted by Big 12 All-Defensive Team honors in 2012), Jordan Henriquez was thrust into an opportunity with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers following a short training camp with the affiliated Houston Rockets.
It's one thing to adjust to playing in the pros. It's another thing to do so while playing for the run and gun Vipers, who are considered one of the more agile and most athletic, quicker teams in all of the D-League. Talk about culture shock. The speed is different, both on the court during games, and off of it during life.
Nevertheless, Henriquez took the challenge in stride. Though he failed to secure a spot in the team's rotation (appearing in just 29 games while playing 9 minutes per contest), his per 36 numbers were strong. This further validated the talent that was present, all while the playing time may not have been. Per 36 minutes, the big man averaged 12.1 points, 10 rebounds, and 3.4 blocks. That said, as more of a raw prospect on the offensive end, his field goal percentage was low. What's more, often used as a defensive stopper in small spurts, his foul totals were high.
Fast-forward to July, and the New York native managed to catch on with the Knicks' NBA Summer League squad. Flanked by big league talents like Tim Hardaway Jr., Cleanthony Early, and Shane Larkin in the team's starting lineup, Henriquez was able to shine by keeping things simple and doing what he does best. He rebounded the ball well and asserted himself on the defensive end, using his physicality to make things difficult for opponents down low.
Serving in such a capacity proved to be key for the 25 year old. "When you want to have a career overseas, you often have to play a role. You need to do things to help your team win. Whatever they want you to do. That's something very valuable, though," his agent, Gerrit Kersten-Thiele, CEO of Scorers 1st, said in a conversation with RidiculousUpside.com.
"Because if you want to be on the court, you have to do what you're asked to do. Not everybody can have the ball whenever they want," he continued. "They may want that, but that's not how it works. I think that's something of value, and it should be important for Jordan in years to come moving forward."
The Knicks obviously saw something they liked in Henriquez. Their D-League affiliated squad in Westchester selected the big man in last fall's expansion draft. Choosing to take advantage of international opportunities instead, the young gun has since caught on with Science City Jena of the Germany Pro A League. Excelling as of late, Henriquez is not only averaging 7.7 rebounds (tied for fourth best in the league) and 1.8 blocks (second-best in the league), but also 11.4 points on an all the more impressive 55% from the floor. He happens to play alongside fellow former D-Leaguer Brady Morningstar, who was coincidentally also selected by Westchester (but has since subsequently been traded) last fall as well.
It's clear Henriquez has talent and is easily able to carve out a niche for himself, even as he continues to hone the other facets of his game.
"I think a lot of people still look back at what he did in college. Both his athletic ability and his length make him appealing. I think that's something we're working with. That's the focus," Kersten-Thiele added. "I think with Jordan, it's all about realizing the potential that is there. He has to show it to people. Sometimes you don't know all of what a player can do. I think with him, there's so much more to come."
"That's something that coaches see, but it's up to he and us to ensure we get that out of him," the agent asserted. "Put him in the right situation where he can show people everything that he brings to the table. He wants that."
It's no surprise Henriquez has only gone to thrive with an assist from his new agency. Scorers 1st has continued to further the careers of talented players such as Tim Ohlbrecht, Patrick Ewing Jr., and Danilo Barthel on all levels in recent seasons.
"We have strong core values, and know how we want to develop as a team and how we want to help players develop careers. Every player that we work with can reach and maximize their potential," the CEO concluded. "They can go on the highest level, whether that's in the NBA or overseas. That extends off the court as well."