Fomer Crete, Duke basketball star Henderson dead at 44

2013-02-18T19:00:00Z 2013-02-19T00:45:03Z Fomer Crete, Duke basketball star Henderson dead at 44Mike Nieto (219) 933-3232
February 18, 2013 7:00 pm  • 

Greg Murray awoke at 1 a.m. Monday when his cellphone rang.

"I just knew it wasn't good news," Murray said, "never is when it's that time of night. I still remember getting a call like that when my grandmother died."

The voice informed Murray that former Crete-Monee Parade All-American and Duke All-American standout basketball player Phil Henderson, 44, had died. He was director of the Filipino Basketball Academy outside of Manila. Murray said his childhood friend died of a heart attack.

"That was like losing a brother," Murray said. "We were close. I just talked to him about three weeks ago. Man, someone please wake me up and tell me this is not true."

Henderson was a senior captain and the leading scorer on the 1989-90 Duke team that lost to UNLV in the national championship game. He averaged 18.5 points that year and scored 22.3 points in tournament play during that postseason. He is remembered for a dunk on Georgetown's Alonzo Mourning in a 1989 NCAA regional final in East Rutherford, N.J.

Henderson was taken by the Dallas Mavericks in the second round of the 1990 NBA draft but played internationally as a pro.

Before leaving for the Philippines, he was the founder and president of the All-American Basketball Academy in Tinley Park.

Murray, who is the program supervisor for the University Park Park District, is a few years older than Henderson, but the two hung out as kids growing up in the south suburb. Murray went on to play football at Marian Catholic and Oklahoma.

"Phil always wanted to play with the older kids and he had two older brothers," Murray said. "He was a pretty good basketball player; wouldn't you say?"

Crete-Monee boys basketball coach Tom Cappel, was an assistant coach at Oak Forest and remembers watching Henderson from the opponent's bench.

"We played Crete in the regional and Phil put on a tremendous show in the (Crete) Dome," Cappel said. "I'm greatly saddened by this news. I do remember that he was a very, very terrific player."

When Crete was between coaches prior to Cappel's hiring, Henderson ran a boy's basketball summer camp.

"He was always working with the kids and he cared about the program and the community," Crete-Monee athletic director Gene Cahan said. "He was really popular with the kids. He really made a name for himself, but made sure he gave back."

Duke head coach Mike Kryzewski remembered Henderson on the university's website Monday.

 "On behalf of the entire Duke Basketball family, we are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Phil Henderson," Kryzewski said. "Our hearts go out to his mom and family. Phil was a talented player and a good man with a gentle soul. We will miss him dearly."

A memorial service is pending.

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