Marshall Henderson suspension: Guard's future in question at Ole Miss

Jamie Squire

Marshall Henderson has been suspended for a reported failed drug test. Is he done at Ole Miss, and if not, where else could he turn?

With Marshall Henderson's suspension from Ole Miss, the question arises: Is one of college basketball's folk heroes done at Ole Miss, or perhaps even done with college basketball in general?

When we heard that Henderson was suspended, the obvious issues came to mind. Henderson was arrested trying to buy marijuana with counterfeit money in 2009, while still in high school, an incident that earned him two years probation. He violated that probation in the spring of 2012, testing positive for cocaine, marijuana, and alcohol. (He's also pretended to smoke during games, but that's neither here nor there.)

Now, we know that Henderson's suspension is reportedly due to a failed drug test, per CBS Sports' Gary Parrish. After Henderson had become America's bad boy sweetheart by leading Ole Miss to its first SEC Tournament championship in more than 30 years, leading his conference with 20.1 points per game on more than 10 three-point attempts per contest, all the while irking fans and being "free-spirited," Deadspin wrote a thought-provoking piece asking why nobody criticized Henderson for his run-ins with the law? How come Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy, who had booted leading scorer Dundrecous Nelson and teammate Jamal Jones off the team for possession of drug paraphernalia in January 2012, didn't have a problem bringing in a player with a history of drug incidents?

Now, Kennedy's hand may have been forced. The suspension is termed "indefinite," for a "violation of team rules," but if it is indeed for a positive drug test, that very well lead to Henderson's exit from the team.

If that's the case, what are Henderson's options going forward? It seems to come down to whether Henderson has graduated or could graduate from Ole Miss. Although he's only played in two seasons at the D-I levels, this upcoming year is his fifth season of eligibility. He started playing basketball in 2009-2010 at Utah, starting the five-year clock during which student athletes are allowed to play four years of eligibility. But when he didn't mesh with the coach, he moved to Texas Tech.

He sat out a year with the Red Raiders, but when Pat Knight got fired, Henderson decided to leave Lubbock and play a season for a junior college. He dominated at South Plains College, which went undefeated and won a national title. This past season, Henderson headed to Ole Miss and began playing as a junior. This upcoming year, he'd be a senior. Since he played this past year, and transfers are forced to sit out a year in between schools, there isn't enough time remaining on that five-year clock for him to transfer to another D-I school.

However, there's the graduate transfer loophole. If a player graduates from one institution, he or she is eligible to transfer and play immediately at another institution. In April, Henderson had written in a letter to Ole Miss fans that he was just nine hours away from graduation. It's unclear whether that's been completed, or whether he could complete that under his current suspension. But if he were to graduate, he'd be able to move to another D-I school - whichever school that would take him, with all his past woes -- and play a final year.

If he hasn't graduated or can't find a school willing to take him, options would include playing overseas or in D-League, neither of which are obligated to uphold NCAA suspensions. Glen Rice Jr. could become Henderson's new role model: The son of the NBA player was dismissed from Georgia Tech after his junior year for a DUI and firing a gun while under the influence, the third suspension of his college career. Rather than finding a new school, Rice entered the D-League Draft and became the best player on the Rio Grande Valley Vipers, who won their final 10 regular season games plus all six playoff games, with Rice averaging 29 points in the D-League Finals. A championship under his belt, he was taken with the 35th pick of the NBA Draft by the Washington Wizards.

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