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Myke Henry of DePaul men’s basketball is done waiting

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Former Illinois forward and current Blue Demon Myke Henry (20) has his shot blocked during the Illini's win against Nebraska. (Photo courtesy of Brenton Tse / The Daily Illini)

Former Illinois forward and current Blue Demon Myke Henry (20) has his shot blocked during the Illini’s win against Nebraska. (Photo courtesy of Brenton Tse / The Daily Illini)

Over the course of last year’s college basketball season, DePaul men’s basketball went through many peaks and valleys. There were highs — winning back-to-back Big East games and upsetting Georgetown in the Big East tournament.  There were even lower lows — ending their season losing 13 of their last 15 games, various suspensions and injuries and an overall lack of team chemistry.

Watching all of this from the sidelines was junior Myke Henry. Each moment left him frustrated, wishing he could contribute and be the one to potentially make a difference.

“You know, you want to be out there,” Henry said. “It made me feel bad. Like damn, I could have really helped them.”

After having to sit out the entire 2013-2014 season due to transfer rules, the former Illinois forward and Chicago high school standout is ready to make an impact with the Blue Demons.

Henry’s year-and-a-half of having to be patient on the sidelines is over.

“I’m thirsty,” Henry said. “I’m super thirsty. I can’t wait to get out there. I’m fitting in pretty well. I think we all get along pretty well.”

Henry transferred to DePaul in June 2013 after spending two seasons with the Illini. While there, he didn’t get the minutes under head coach John Groce that he expected. In his sophomore season, Henry averaged only 10.6 minutes per game and averaged 3.2 points and 2.1 rebounds per game.

Former Illinois and current Blue Demon forward Myke Henry (20) drives the ball around Gardner-Webb’s Jerome Hill (35) during the game at Assembly Hall on  Nov. 25, 2012. (Photo courtesy of Brenton Tse / The Daily Illini)

Former Illinois and current Blue Demon forward Myke Henry (20) drives the ball around Gardner-Webb’s Jerome Hill (35) during the game at Assembly Hall on Nov. 25, 2012. (Photo courtesy of Brenton Tse / The Daily Illini)

But coming out of high school, Henry was a highly prized recruit. Rivals.com ranked him as a four-star recruit and No. 39 in the nation. ESPN also ranked Henry as a four-star recruit and at No. 97 in the nation.

DePaul recruited Henry heavily out of high school and they jumped at the chance to be able to get him when he wanted to transfer from Illinois.

“DePaul is a little closer to my family,” said Henry, who attended Orr High School in Chicago. “It’s a fresh start, but I chose DePaul mainly because it was closer to family.”

As for his role on the team, Henry isn’t sure what to expect. However, he described himself as a player who excels at shooting the 3-pointer and being able to run the floor.

He’s the type of athlete who DePaul head coach Oliver Purnell looks for when he recruits.  Purnell said he expects Henry to make a big contribution to this upcoming season.

“Myke’s an experienced guy, playing two years at Illinois,” Purnell said. “It was great that he had a chance to play in our system and know our guys from last year. He’s the kind of athlete that fits right into our system.”

Purnell, however, said it was too early to assume that Henry would be the starter at the small forward position.  The Blue Demons have a lot of depth at the wing position with Henry, Jaime Crockett, R.J. Curington and fellow transfer Darrick Wood.

Last year, DePaul relied on Cleveland Melvin and Charles McKinney to produce at the small forward position, both are no longer on the roster.

“With most of these guys, it’s too early if they’re going to start even though they expect to,” Purnell said. “We’ve got a lot of competition through two days of practice and that’s apparent. That’s a good thing. Guys can push each other to get better.”

Henry said he just wants to help anyway possible.

“I’m a little more dimensional and I’ve added aspects to my game,” Henry said. “I learned (in this year off) that I’ve got to be patient. We went through the ups and downs and I learned we can’t put our heads down. We’ve got to take that energy and play through it.”

Henry’s first game in a Blue Demons uniform will be Nov. 6 in an exhibition against Lewis University at McGrath-Phillips Arena. It will be Henry’s first game since March 24, 2012.

“It’s been a long time coming, so I’m a little bit anxious because I haven’t played,” Henry said. “But now it’s here. I’m ready.”

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Myke Henry of DePaul men’s basketball is done waiting