CLINTON – Camanche senior LJ Henderson is one of 16 high school students competing this week in the 2020 American Family Insurance Slam Dunk fan voting competition. That gives him a chance to compete in Atlanta in April, but he needs the fan votes to do it.
Henderson has been showing off his athleticism this season with high flying dunks – one handed, two handed, left, right, with defense, open court, doesn’t matter.
The offensive power was recorded and a dunk against Wilton went viral on social media, being retweeted and talked about for days. That got Henderson some national attention, and then the High School Slam got in touch, asking for a video reel.
“That was crazy when he sent me the email,” Henderson said. “Coach said check my email, the principal came in and said check your email, I couldn’t believe what I was reading.”
Henderson will be a part of this week’s competition. The #DreamFearlessly fan-portion includes 16 players from across the country who caught the attention of the committee. Each player is pitted against another in a bracket style, and the one who garners the most votes will move on to the next week’s competition.
Voting begins on Tuesday, and fans can vote at highschoolslam.com. There will also be a link on the Clinton Herald Website, and information about the event’s social media.
The winner of the fan-portion will compete on April 7 (during College Basketball Championship Week) on CBS in the 2020 American Family Slam Dunk and 3-Point Contest.
Henderson stands at just 6-02, but offers high flying jumps and speed in his basketball game. The game slams, though, are new.
“Freshman year I would try, but it wasn’t until sophomore or junior year when I could actually put it down,” Henderson said. “This year is the first time I actually started doing it in games and getting comfortable.”
He’s certainly not the only one either. Head coach Josh Davis says more of his roster can dunk than not, and actually had to call off any dunks in practice because of blistered hands this year.
For Henderson, his first game slam came in their season opener.
“First game this year, I remember everyone telling me not to miss it or I’d be sitting right next to coach,” Henderson said. “It kind of was a relief for me when I got it done.”
It’s something he’s had fun with, giving a new look to the game he’s been playing his entire life.
“It adds a whole other element to the game of basketball,” Henderson said. “It’s like restarting basketball when you get to add new things to it, and it’s another tool, too.”
He’s naturally excited to be a part of the fan-voting and hoping for good results. The process takes four weeks, and he’ll move up against a new opponent with a new dunk compilation each time.
“I didn’t think I’d stand a chance to be a part of something like this,” Henderson said. “I’m just going to enjoy it ... see how far I can go.”
Social Media: @HighSchoolSlam