Marshall Henderson was never college basketball's best player or scorer or anything last season. But he developed into the sport's most fascinating figure and was widely considered must-see television for lots of right and some wrong reasons as Ole Miss reached the Round of 32 of the NCAA tournament.
He was either the best or worst thing about college basketball.
Reasonable minds differed on that.
But Henderson was undeniably interesting and among the sport's highest-profile players. His rise in status, sparked by his jersey-popping episode in a victory at Auburn, created national headlines. And so you knew Henderson would also garner big bold letters if he ever experienced the downfall many predicted, and proof of that came Wednesday when Ole Miss announced it is suspending the 6-foot-2 guard for a "violation of team rules" that a source told CBSSports.com is related to failed drug tests.
Henderson's future at Ole Miss is suddenly uncertain.
A source said a stint in a rehabilitation facility is possible. So now it's impossible for anybody to laugh at Henderson's antics and defend his sometimes outlandish behavior because none of it is funny anymore. He has embarrassed himself, his coaches and the administration that gambled on him despite the fact that he had previously spent time in jail for violating probation by reportedly testing positive for cocaine, marijuana and alcohol, this after being caught trying to buy drugs with counterfeit money.
Which is not to suggest there are any innocent victims here.
Ole Miss knew what it was getting.
Henderson has forever been as troubled as he is talented, but when you've gone six years without making the NCAA tournament, like Kennedy had, and you're set to enter your seventh season on the so-called hot seat, like Kennedy did, then you're almost required to take a chance on a player of Henderson's caliber who can possibly help you break through, keep your job and get a contract extension. And that's exactly what happened, by the way. Henderson helped Ole Miss win, which helped Kennedy keep his job and get a contract extension. So Kennedy and Ole Miss benefited from gambling on Henderson, and Henderson benefited from Kennedy and Ole Miss gambling on him.
But a bad turn was always on the table of possibilities.
Anybody near the Rebels program knew as much.
That bad turn came late Wednesday afternoon.
Henderson then managed to make it worse.
Early Wednesday evening, Ole Miss football player Denzel Nkemdiche posted a video on Instagram that featured Henderson addressing the news. Asked for his thoughts on the day, Henderson appeared to say, "sadness, ho." Then he smiled into the camera.
The video was taken down about 40 minutes after it posted.
Nkemdiche later tweeted that his account had been hacked. But that's just something dumb that athletes insist happened when they tweet something stupid that is eventually deleted. Nobody believes Nkemdiche's Twitter account was really hacked because he was on camera talking about "Free my boy Marshall." So, Nkemdiche was wise to delete it. And he can claim whatever he wants. But by then the additional damage had been done, point being that the video was a terrible idea for all involved.
For starters, it dragged the football program into a negative basketball story. Hugh Freeze must've been thrilled with that. But more than anything, the 15-second video suggested Henderson isn't taking this latest development any more seriously than he seems to take anything else, and I'm not sure how Ole Miss chancellor Daniel Jones could watch it without wanting to dismiss Henderson on the spot.
Wanna make a video?
But Henderson should've made one that shows remorse. That features him apologizing. That indicates he fully understands he has embarrassed his coaches and school and proved to be just as predictable as many predicted. Instead, he tweeted about #WhiteGirlWednesday, then mumbled "sadness, ho" into a camera and smiled. And though there was a time when I would've laughed at all three things, that time has passed. It's hard to laugh at things that aren't funny. And Marshall Henderson doesn't seem all that funny right now. He's not making jokes anymore. He's actually becoming the joke.