Myke Henry Ready to Use ‘Adaptable’ Mindset for World Cup Qualifying
After making it to the NBA, the 3x3 veteran has his sights set on another USA Basketball roster.
Growing up, Myke Henry was known best as a backstroker in the swimming pool. Then his growth spurt hit, and by eighth grade his focus had changed.
“When I touched the ball, I decided I liked the game,” said Henry. “I went on from there, just lovin’ it.”
Now standing 6-foot-6, Henry’s journey on the hardwood has taken him to the Division I level, 3x3 tournaments and even a stint in the NBA, and now it’s getting a new wrinkle. Earlier this month, USA Basketball announced Henry would participate in the USA Men’s World Cup Qualifying Team training camp.
Until now, his only international experience came at the 2016 FIBA 3x3 World Cup, but Henry says he’s ready to “make his presence felt.”
“You have to compete,” he said of earning a spot in camp. “We’re competitors, that’s just nature. I think there’ll be a competition.”
That competitive nature has been nurtured over his long journey in the sport.
Born in Chicago, Henry grew up watching — who else? — the Bulls, and came out of Chicagoland’s Orr Academy High School as a top-100 recruit. During his senior year of high school in 2010–11, he averaged 25 points and 11 rebounds, and his efforts earned him all-state honors.
College tested Henry. Playing under the tutelage of four coaches in as many seasons, he had to learn how to think on his feet and be more adaptable.
As a freshman at the University of Illinois, he played under coach Bruce Weber and averaged 8.1 minutes in 22 games, with 3.1 points and 1.1 rebounds per game. The head coach his sophomore year was John Groce, and Henry played in 35 games, averaging 10.5 minutes, 3.2 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.
Then he transferred to DePaul University, playing for coach Oliver Purnell. He redshirted the 2013-14 season, but his junior year, he started in 32 games for an average of 28.1 minutes, 12 points, 5.4 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game. His final year, he started 31 games, averaged 28.9 minutes, 13.7 points, 6.2 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game with coach Dave Leitao.
“Kind of incredible right? I might be the only person in NCAA history to do that,” Henry mused on the revolving door of coaches. “That takes great resilience and an ever-changing mindset.”
After college, Henry was introduced to the USA Basketball system through 3x3.
“We traveled a lot with that,” he said, mentioning that despite not posting too often on social media, he took tons of pictures of his international visits. “I had good experiences with that. It was my starting point with USA Basketball, the start of my journey.”
He was the MVP of the 2016 USA Basketball 3x3 National Tournament, where his team 3BALL Chicago Premier won and earned a trip to the 2016 FIBA 3x3 World Cup in China. The trio won USA Basketball’s first and only FIBA 3x3 World Cup medal at the senior level, a silver, after finishing 6-1 in the tournament. Henry scored 50 points, averaging 7.1 per game, and was the second highest-scoring player in the field of 80 athletes.
He also played in a 3x3 league in Abu Dhabi before making the move to Mexico for the 2016-17 season, playing with Rayos de Hermosillo.
“I picked up some Spanish,” he said. “I picked up the essentials, the necessary stuff that I needed to live a normal life out there.”
After Mexico, he played in the NBA G League with the Oklahoma City Blue. Switching back and forth from 3x3 doesn’t faze Henry.
“Five-on-five is fast, but 3x3 is a different pace,” he explained. “It’s a continuous play on a small section of the court. It’s playing like at home, on the playground.”
In his 2016-17 season with the Blue, Henry played in 38 games alongside Alex Caruso and Rashawn Thomas, who are both on USA Basketball’s World Cup qualifying roster. The next season, he played in 27 games, averaging 15.7 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, and also spent time with the Memphis Hustle.
Henry’s first big break came on Jan. 13, 2018, when he signed a two-way contract with the Memphis Grizzlies. It essentially allowed him to float between the NBA and the G League for a fixed period. He played in 20 NBA games and averaged 18.9 minutes, 5.4 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.6 steals per game.
His steady rise through the professional and national ranks hasn’t been without hurdles, though. As kids, Henry and his younger brother Darrel “D.J.” McKinney were close. D.J. enjoyed scouring the internet for clips of his older brother, then still a standout at Orr High School. However, in 2010 D.J. attended a back-to-school party before his sophomore year of his school. The 15-year-old was fatally shot, hit by stray gunfire.
“I always envision him at my games,” Henry told the Chicago Tribune in 2014. “I love him. He was my biggest fan. All my games, front row. He was sitting almost on the floor."
It’s possible that the biggest stage Henry will play on is still to come, playing for his country this summer.
“It’s a surreal moment, because you’re on a big stage,” he said. “The (U.S. men’s national) soccer team didn’t make it (to the World Cup). That was kinda bad. It means more to you.
“I don’t think I wanna end up like them, not throwing shots at them,” he added with a laugh. “But I take great pride in playing for (the U.S.). It means a lot because my name is also on the back of the jersey, so I’m representing myself as well.”