HENDERSON — Four of Henderson Collegiate’s top contributors over the last several years — seniors Javonte Waverly, Akhiris Holden, Nick Green and Jashea Hart — are set to sign letters of intent next week to play basketball at the collegiate level.
Head coach and athletic director George Marshall said that all four o played their own specific role in transforming the men’s basketball program into one of the best in the state, and that he’s looking forward to seeing how they continue to grow both on and off the court.
“It’s an indescribable feeling because this is the goal of the program,” Marshall said. “We don’t necessarily want to put kids into college to play basketball, but we want them to graduate from college and become better men. The benefit that these four will experience by not having to pay much or anything to go to these fantastic academic institutions is really awesome to see.”
Waverly has committed to play for UNC Pembroke, while Holden will continue his career at Cape Fear Community College. Hart is set to join Methodist University’s roster in the fall.
Green remains the only one of the four seniors that has not yet formally committed to a college, but Marshall expects him to make a final decision in the coming days.
Signing days have become common for Henderson Collegiate players as the program has taken flight. Ashad Jefferson became the first athlete in school history to sign a letter of intent, back in 2019 when he committed to William Peace University.
Kalib Mathews followed in Jefferson’s footsteps just a few months later when he committed to play basketball for Queens University in Charlotte starting in the fall of 2021.
Henderson Collegiate advanced to the NCHSAA 1A championship game during Jefferson and Mathews’ senior years in 2019 and 2020. The team became co-champions in 2020 when the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of that year’s finals.
With Mathews’ graduation, responsibility fell upon Waverly, Holden and the rest of the senior class to pick up from where Henderson Collegiate left off in 2020 so they could clinch a spot in the NCHSAA 1A championship for the third year in a row.
Although the Pride’s season ended with a 68-58 loss to Wilson Prep in the third round, the team still finished with a solid 10-3 record due Waverly’s and Holden’s leadership on and off the court.
Waverly averaged 16.3 points a game and led the team in assists with 5.6 a game, while Holden took a major step forward in his on-court performance by registering 20.2 points, nine rebounds, 2.5 steals and 2.4 blocks per game, all of which were team highs.
Marshall said that he is not surprised by the growth Waverly and Holden demonstrated, and is confident that their determination will make them valuable contributors for their respective teams.
“So much was thrown at [Waverly and Holden] early in their careers,” Marshall said. “They are both four-year varsity starters and have done so many positive things for our school and community. They have made decisions that are going to set them up for their futures so I’m expecting big things from them moving forward.”
While Holden and Waverly helped maintain Henderson Collegiate’s efficiency on the court, Hart was a crucial piece of the program’s senior leadership in practices and a key rotational player off the bench.
Marshall said that Hart’s performance against Wilson Prep, in which he grabbed four rebounds and tallied two steals, highlighted his tremendous improvement as a player during his two years on the varsity program and proved he has the potential to reach greater heights in college.
“When [Jashea] started, he really lacked confidence,” Marshall said. “He doubted himself a lot, but through hard work, commitment, persistence and learning about the benefits of a positive attitude, he was able to do some really great things throughout his senior year. The fact that he’s been able to find somewhere to play in college is a blessing and a testament to his hard work.”
Green arrived at Henderson Collegiate in 2019 and immediately emerged as one of the program’s top playmakers by averaging 9.0 point, 5.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
He was unable to play during his senior year, but Marshall said his versatility will be helpful as he continues his development.
“Nick is an elite shooter and a really good defender, which people are always looking for at the college level,” Marshall said. “He’s also a great person and a really fun guy to be around. His humor and passion for the game bled over into the whole team and I’ve really enjoyed working with him the past couple of years.”
Regardless of the path that Waverly, Holden, Hart and Green choose to take after graduating from Henderson Collegiate, Marshall said that he is proud of what those four and the rest of the senior class have accomplished at the school. He added that he would trade in any of his wins just to see them accomplish their dreams.
Marshall also credits the team’s success to the effort the seniors put into following Henderson Collegiate’s selfless “we over me” culture, and believes that the Class of 2021 has added more to an already strong foundation that will keep the program successful throughout the decade.
“When we started, no one could have imagined that things would play out the way they did,” Marshall said. “No one imagined we’d go to back-to-back state finals and win three conference championships in a row, but all of that is because of the hard work of the players. Now it’s time to celebrate the class of 2021, but then it’s right back to getting ready for next season so we can get more guys at this level.”
Marshall intends to hold a signing day for Waverly, Holden, Hart and Green at Henderson Collegiate on June 9.