May 4, 2013
By Jon Cooper
From 2002 through 2005, Anthony McHenry made a name for himself on the Flats, as a valuable part of Georgia Tech Yellow men’s basketball. In his own quiet way, he did his part, helping the team to the 2004 NCAA Tournament Championship Game as a junior, then co-captaining the 2004-05 team as a senior with Isma’il Muhammad.
A lot has changed for the 30-year-old McHenry (he turned 30 in April), who now plays in Japan for the Basketball Japan League’s Ryukyu Golden Kings — his story, as well as that of fellow Yellow Jacket D’Andre Bell can be found in the upcoming issue of Buzz Magazine — but not the part about his being valuable for championship contenders.
On Wednesday, the 6-7, 222-pound forward from Birmingham, Ala., was named the BJ-League’s Most Valuable Player.
He finished the 2012-13 season averaging 16.1 points per game, shooting 57.9 percent, 37.4 percent from three and 76.0 percent from the line. He he was more than a scorer, grabbing 9.7 rebounds, handing out 3.1 assists, making 2.0 steals and even rejecting 1.1 blocks. Known as one of the league’s premiere defensive stoppers, he also was chosen to the league’s Best Five Team, his second berth on the team.
McHenry’s versatility and unselfishness has made him as big a hit with the fans in Japan as the media.
“He doesn’t come across as a very selfish player,” said Ed Odeven of The Japan Times. “There have been times when he’s scored a lot but he’s not a guy averaging 30 points a game. He can leap. He can get up there. His individual skills are going to be celebrated but the team has been so good for so long now that that is what is celebrated more. It’s the culture of the franchise as well. They’ve embraced winning.”
The Golden Kings did plenty of that in ’12-13, finishing 42-10, the best record in Japan League history, and they won the Western Division by eight games over the second-place Fukuoka Rizing.
That’s on the heels of last year’s league championship, the franchise’s second since McHenry arrived in 2008 (it had only come into existence the year before).
“I would have to say my favorite two moments since I have been here would have to be the two titles we won,” said McHenry, the ’12 Finals MVP.
McHenry wears No. 5 now as opposed to the 55 that he wore at Georgia Tech, but still fondly recalls his days on the Flats, where he made his mark under Paul Hewitt with his durability and his defense.
His 130 career games played tie him for the most in school history with teammate Marvin Lewis (2001-04) and the legendary Malcolm Mackey (1990-93), while his 95 career blocks rank 10th all-time among Yellow Jackets.
Those two traits are still his trademarks, as he played in 50 of the team’s 52 games this season — that’s actually the FEWEST games he’s played in a season in his career in Japan. He was on the floor more than three minutes more per game than anyone else on the squad, and was all over the floor shadowing opponents’ top scorers.
Even with the championships and the scores of wins of which he’s been part, being part of the Yellow Jackets run through in the NCAAs in 2004 still holds a special place, although winning in the states and in Japan are both important.
“Winning here was a tremendous accomplishment for my career but more so for the fans and community of Okinawa, they deserved it,” said McHenry. “I cannot really compare the two other than to say, I went to the Final Four with guys that I consider to be brothers for life.”