The Minnesota High School Basketball Hall of Fame inductions of Ronnie Henderson (Marshall-U player), Tracy Henderson (Minneapolis Patrick Henry player), and Ed Prohofsky (Marshall-U coach) on March 26 rekindled some fond memories for this columnist.
Let’s take a look:
During the summer of 1980, Henderson, a 5’7” guard, was scrimmaging with players at a basketball camp hosted by former University of Minnesota and NBA great Mychal Thompson. On Henderson’s team that summer afternoon at Macalester College was then-Philadelphia 76ers NBA star Julius “Dr. J” Erving.
I was a 14-year-old participant in the camp at that time, and I watched as Henderson, running a fast break, threw the ball off the backboard as Dr. J slammed dunked it.
“Who was the guy that threw it off the backboard?,” I asked my father. “That’s Ronnie Henderson,” he replied. The expression on his face as he answered the question gave me the impression that I should have known who he was.
I never forgot after that.
At the beginning of the 1989-90 girls’ basketball season, my father, the late Kwame McDonald, was in town visiting when he told me there was a freshmen player he had to see. He kept hearing about her being the next great one, but in addition to that, she was playing for Minneapolis Patrick Henry, where he and I had taught the year before.
We went to see her play and the 6’3” Henderson did not disappoint. My father turned to me and said: “She is going to be a great one!”
Indeed, he was right, as Henderson capped an outstanding four-year run earning Metro Player of the Year, All-State and All-America honors. She went on to represent the University of Georgia Women’s basketball team at the 1995 NCAA Final Four at the Target Center — along with fellow sophomore and former Minneapolis North standout Brandi Decker-Lewis.
It amazes me to this day that, despite her accomplishments, Henderson was not named Ms. Basketball her senior year.
As a young reporter, I attended the Twin City Girls basketball game between Cretin-Derham Hall and Minneapolis Roosevelt at Washburn High School in March of 1989 with the purpose of covering it. At the time I was writing for Insight News, a local African American-owned newspaper. The athletic director wouldn’t let me in because I wasn’t on the past list. I showed him my business card and identification and he still wouldn’t budge.
I spotted Prohofsky, then the director of athletics for Minneapolis Public Schools, in attendance. “Talk to Ed Prohofsky, he knows me,” I stated quickly.
He [the athletic director] went to talk with him about my status. Now mind you, I had only met Prohofsky briefly after my father introduced us a few weeks before.
A minute later, the athletic director let me in. It happened that fast. I thanked him and sat with him for part of the game — a very nice gesture that I’ve never forgotten.
Unforgettable moments from three greats!
Dr. Mitchell Palmer McDonald is a contributing columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.