One of the largest struggles of being a prep level basketball coach is finding younger players who are capable of replacing the graduating seniors on the team. Chaminade head coach, Todd Wolfson, has always done a fantastic job replacing their previous stars. When all-time school scoring leader Jaron Martin left for UC Irvine, the Jack Williams era begun, and now that Williams has graduated and is playing at Long Beach State, the team has officially become Michael Oguine’s, but other replacements are not as obvious. The challenge to find a new star is great, but the challenge to find the talented role players can be even harder.
These role players aren’t usually the guys who make varsity their first day of freshman year. These role players are the kids who pay their dues in the program. They spend time at all levels, learning the ins and outs of the high school game before they are eventually called up for their time on the varsity squad. A perfect example of this type of player is junior Nick Henzgen.
Henzgen is a three-point phenom, and has dominated from behind the arc at all levels. Like many varsity role players, he began his career on the freshman team, moved up to the JV team his sophomore year, and now is playing for Wolfson on varsity. Except his journey is a little more complicated than that.
As the 2013-14 Chaminade JV basketball season began, Henzgen had bigger worries than knocking down threes. He had been sick and was hospitalized, keeping him out of all but five games his sophomore season. With so much uncertainty at the time, it would have been hard to believe that at this time next year, Henzgen would lead the varsity team in adjusted field goal percentage and lead all scorers with 18 points (6-11 3FG) in the Santa Monica Tournament championship game against Hamilton.
“The turn around, being back out there, it feels so great,” said Henzgen. “I’m just so happy I can be on the court helping the team.” And help the team he has, Henzgen’s three-point shooting has been much needed for Chaminade after losing knock down shooters Danny Holcomb and Justin Eisen. Plus, a three-point shooter tends to have a much easier transition into upper levels.
“Other than the defenders improving at every level, the three doesn’t change much, so that makes the transition much easier offensively,” Henzgen explained. “Defense is another story. At times it can be a struggle, but I just go out there do all that I can to help my team.”
Henzgen will also be the first to tell you about how helpful the lower level programs can be. They provided him a stage to let the coaches know who he was, what he does, and how good he can be. His years of development in the lower-level teams have made him the player he is today.
So who is Nick Henzgen? Simply put, he and other key role players are the glue of any team. There is always going to be the stars of the team, but every team needs guys like Henzgen to come off the bench and be a major spark for the team.
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