By Thomas Corhern
Cookeville Herald-Citizen Sports
COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- When the Tennessee Tech women’s basketball team opened its 2012-13 campaign, Diamond Henderson was a virtual unknown.
Sure, the sophomore had played in three games in her freshman season in 2010-11 before a knee injury sidelined her. In her redshirt freshman campaign in 2011-12, Henderson appeared in 22 games, scoring 30 points and picking up 16 rebounds and 14 assists.
What a difference a season can make.
After the departure of head coach Sytia Messer and the introduction of Jim Davis at the helm of the Golden Eagle women’s basketball program, Henderson proved to be a diamond in the rough, to turn a phrase, as she helped lead the Tech team back to the Ohio Valley Conference tournament championship game and the Golden Eagles to a first-place finish in the OVC East Division.
Her performance in 2012-13 led her to be selected as this year’s Tennessee Tech Female Athlete of the Year.
“I’m excited and proud,” Henderson said of the honor. “It’s been a long road from getting injured and everything, but hard work pays off and I’m just grateful and thankful for all the help from the coaching staff and my family.”
And it was tough competition for the Tech committee that selected the winner.
The 11 nominees included a senior track and field athlete that flirted with several career marks in shot put, discus, hammer, weight throw and javelin (Madison Borden), a freshman soccer player that ranked 13th in Division I as a goalkeeper (Jordan Brown), a junior cross-country track runner that placed first or second in all seven meets then led the track and field team in distance events (Rebecca Cline), a senior softball player that collected a 16-game hitting streak (Melody Christian), a redshirt freshman on the golf team that finished with three Top 10 appearances (Madalyn Everts), a junior volleyball player that was the OVC’s Defensive Player of the Year (Kelsey Gray), a fellow member of the Tech women’s basketball team (Jala Harris), a junior member of the softball team who was the team’s second best hitter (Kendall Hooper), a junior soccer player that had a fantastic offensive year (Ellie Iaciofano) and a senior cross-country and track and field runner that made an appearance at the NCAA Regional cross-country meet (Beth Miller).
Still, it was Henderson’s performance that stood out above the rest.
After all, it is hard to argue with the stats.
Henderson played in all 31 games, starting in 21 of them. Averaging 26 minutes a game, Henderson compiled a 15.8 point-per-game average, a 78.8 free-throw shooting percentage, a 2.6 rebounds per game average and a 2.4 assist per game ratio.
In OVC play alone, Henderson averaged 16.4 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists.
“She was such a big, big part of our team because of her scoring ability,” said Coach Davis. “She’s worked really hard at developing her offensive game. She does a great job of scoring in traffic. She gets to the paint and scores over people much bigger than her. She did a really good job of scoring down low. Her 3-point performance (38.6 percent) was pretty good. Obviously, Diamond can score. She was one of the best scorers in Georgia as a high school senior.”
Among the conference’s leaders, Henderson ranked fifth in scoring, second in field goal percentage, and seventh in free throw percentage.