If you’re not too familiar with Providence senior forward LeDontae Henton, well, you probably will be soon. Henton has been named one of 15 finalists for the Julius Erving Award, which is given annually to the best small forward in college basketball.
Henton sure played like it Wednesday, finishing with 22 points, 11 rebounds, one assist, one steal and one block in an 84-57 win over DePaul. Providence (19-8, 9-5) shot 52.8 percent from the floor and 27-of-33 (81.8 percent) from the foul line; Henton was 8-of-9.
Can the Friars shoot that well from the stripe the rest of the season?
“Yeah, I really believe so,” Henton said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “Coaches do a great job of making it a point of emphasis of knocking down free throws and getting to the line and drawing fouls. And we did that tonight and we was able to knock them down.”
Henton does not get nervous at the foul line, even on the road in high-pressure situations.
“It’s really about repetition and concentration,” he said. “Just focusing on the free throw when you get to the line and making sure you’re knocking it down.”
Providence sophomore guard Kris Dunn was equally impressive Wednesday, finishing with 21 points, four rebounds, four assists and four steals. He also shot 5-of-7 from the floor and 11-of-12 from the line.
“The coaches did a great job of putting us in position to do great and come out with a road win,” Henton said. “DePaul is a great team. They’re tough and they’re real physical and we just tried to bring our A-game on the road.”
Providence finished with 10 steals and four blocks and limited DePaul to 34.0 percent shooting from the floor.
“On the road, you got to make sure you (play well defensively),” Henton said. “DePaul is a great scoring team, and they can shoot the ball really well. Defensively, we just knew we had to come out prepared for what they had to offer. Coaches told us to fly around. We played a little bit of zone and that’s what we did. We just tried to fly around and fight them off (the line) because they have a really good three-point shooting team.”
Providence plays at No. 6 Villanova (24-2, 11-2) on Feb. 24. The Friars lost to Villanova, 74-68, at home on Feb. 11. Can they beat the Wildcats this time around?
“Yeah, I really believe so,” Henton said. “We learned from the last game. There’s a lot of 50-50 balls we didn’t get, a lot of offensive rebounds they got on their end. We know we got to be a tougher team next time.”
Henton, a 6-6, 215-pounder from Lansing, Michigan, is averaging 20.6 points and 6.0 rebounds this season. He’s also shooting 45.4 percent from the floor, 76.6 percent from the foul line and 32.9 percent from three.
“It really would be an honor to win,” Henton said of the Julius Erving Award. “I learned about Dr. J growing up. He’s a great player and he did a lot of great things for the game of basketball. For me to be up for the award is just great.”