The player affectionally referred to as "Meat" enters his sophomore season with more of his nickname added to his bones. According to head coach Frank Martin, sophomore forward Demetrius Henry added close to 20 pounds this season. Henry joins teammates Duane Notice, Laimonas Chatkevicius, and Mindaugas Kacinas as Gamecocks who went under some kind of weight gain or loss this summer in preparation for the season.
The Miami, FL product played in 34 games last season and started 29 of them, often at center. While power forward is Henry's more natural position, he was forced to play out of position last season at center for basically the entirety of his minutes. Frank Martin hopes that Chatkevicius ' increasing development and conditioning will provide relief to Henry's predicament. There is no news as to whether the starting lineup Martin played against Benedict will be the one used on Friday night but it had Henry as the 5 like last season. Although, if the exhibition is any indication, Chatkevicius will play close to as many minutes as his frontcourt brethren, often with Henry, which will only help the sophomore's play.
Henry's averages last season were pretty poor: 4.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and 0.6 BPG in 18.0 minutes per game. They were even worse in SEC play, dipping to 2.0 points and 2.3 rebounds in 15.4 minutes per game. He had a few solid performances during his freshman season that showed promise. He had nine points, six rebounds, and two blocks in the Gamecocks close loss to No. 23 Baylor. Henry also scored 9 points and grabbed five rebounds vs. Clemson.
He has talent and size, it's not hard to notice, the production in the numbers just need to come for many to see it clearer. Henry was a 4-star or 3-star recruit and a top-120 player according to all three prominent recruiting services. Staying out of foul trouble, something he struggled with last season, will allow him to stay on the floor more often. Henry committed the most fouls on the team and the 2nd most in the SEC last season (118). When Henry got fouled, he also hindered the team. He shot 24.3% from the free throw line, the worst on the team and without looking it up, one of the worst marks in the country.
While those might be two of Henry's spots of weakness, Frank Martin and his coaching staff challenged Henry to improve his rebounding. The work Henry put in this summer will help but Martin believes the experience he gained last year will provide the most benefit. "Demetrius Henry is a lot better than he was last year because he's removed from the pressure," Martin said. "We all sit there with freshman and we, including me, think it's a lot easier than it is for freshman. When you're a freshman and you have a bad day, it gets exposed real bad when you've never been through it before. The next day it doesn't get any easier. You just don't get an easy day so it's hard to regain confidence, especially when you're going through it for the very first time. That kind of happened to him. He wasn't physically ready. He wanted to be, but he just couldn't do it."
Henry has said that the time he spent in the weight room this summer not only improved his play, but improved his confidence. Frank Martin has referred to him as a "major surprise" so far in preseason practice. Without being asked to, Sindarius Thornwell commented on Henry's improvement during fall practice. Henry has confidence in himself, Frank Martin and his teammates have confidence in Henry. Will the South Carolina fan base join them? Production will dictate that.