PROVIDENCE - LaDontae Henton doesn't like to compare his game and his style of play on the basketball floor as a freshman member of the Providence College Friars. All the rookie is concerned about is winning.
Forget the fact that Henton's 14.3 points per game scoring average was the third-best among all freshmen in the Big East Conference. Forget the fact that Henton's 8.6 per game rebounding average was the best among all rookies in the conference, the sixth-best figure overall.
And that he played 40 minutes or more in 10 Big East games for the Friars, his average playing time of 37.1 minutes placing him on the floor as the fifth-most among all players.
"I just want to play basketball," said Henton, one of seven players selected to the All-Big East Conference Rookie Team. Coming out of Lansing, Mich. as the No. 2 vote-getter during his senior season as Michigan's Mr. Basketball, Henton has exceeded everyone's expectations.
"Reputations mean a lot, but they don't mean nothing when you go on the floor," he said after the Friars' final workout at Alumni Hall Monday in preparation for tonight's Big East
Conference Tournament opener against Seton Hall at Madison Square Garden.
Henton was named to the All-Big East Rookie Team, one that included the top two freshmen scorers in the conference - St. John's teammates D'Angelo Harrison (18.5) and Moe Harkless (15.3), Connecticut's 6-foot-11, 275-pound man-child Andre Drummond, Louisville forward Chane Behanan, Notre Dame guard Jerian Grant and South Florida guard Anthony Collins.
Henton might not be a fancy pick as the Big East Rookie of the Year, but he deserves the accolade, considering his points, his rebounds, his minutes and what he has contributed to a Friar team (15-16) which just might be the team that nobody in the Big East wants to play right now - having played 17 games (winning seven) decided by margins of 10 points or less.
"He's one of the best freshmen in the country. I don't know if he's going to be the Big East Rookie of the Year, but he's my rookie of the year," beamed PC coach Ed Cooley of the 6-foot-6 Henton.
The Friar freshman has delivered nine "double-doubles" on the season, the second most all-time (to Michael Smith) among PC players. He has reached double scoring figures in 24 games (a career high 33 against South Florida); is shooting a healthy 46 percent from the field; a healthy 76 percent at the free-throw line; and 43 percent from three-point range, converting the second most (31) behind Bryce Cotton.
"Coming into this season, you set goals for yourself, this is one of them, to have a great season and make the All-Freshman team - my teammates put me in position to be able to do that."
More so, Henton has provided Providence fans with hope for the future of Friar basketball.
"He's got ice in his veins and he's brought toughness to the team," added Cooley of the Friar they call "Buckets," for his ability to score inside or outside, willing to battle on the boards and develop his overall game.
"He has great hands, he comes up with big baskets," said Cooley, citing of the two 3-pointers he hit to beat UConn. "He has a good feel on how to score the ball. He's going to be a special player."
Henton shed some 20 pounds of weight with preseason conditioning, making it possible to play virtually every minute of every game.
"We have to play hungry," said Henton of the matchup against the Pirates (19-11), the Friars having lost a nine-point decision to Seton Hall in Providence. "The hustle plays, the rebounding - we understand what it takes to win a game.
"I like what we do, teams don't want to play us. We are a very hard-working team. We can go on runs, we play very hard at both ends of the floor."
Henton will be making his MSG debut, and even for a kid from Michigan, "it's a dream come true. Everyone knows the Big East is where it's at."
Henton is where he's at, the Friars' Big East Rookie of the Year candidate.
- Friar junior guard , with a Big East-best 136 assists (No. 2 all time among Friars with 556 behind ), was a third team all-Big East pick. He looks to get the upper hand on Seton Hall's , another All-Big East pick, who had 14 points (on 14 shots) with nine assists in the Pirates' win over the Friars. "They're a bubble team (for the NCAA Tournament), they need to win, so we're going to get their best effort," said Council, Seton Hall shooting just 34 percent against PC in that game. "They outrebounded us in that first game (47-44). For me, I love playing at the Garden - the lights, the rims, the atmosphere, it's the mecca of basketball." … The Friars have lost in the first round of the Big East Tournament in 10 of the past 12 seasons, last beating DePaul during the 2008-'09 season … PC has a 45-44 edge in the all-time series with the Pirates … "When the 3-ball is going in for us, we're a really good basketball team," said Cooley of the Friars' offense. "We understand we have some shortcomings, but we have a lot of strengths - there's no favorable game in the Big East. This is a brutal league night in and night out. There's 94-feet of opportunity."