Ursuline’s Henry takes game to Portland State

BY MICHAEL COIT
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT

Fearless as a shooter, Ursuline basketball standout Jordan Henry is confident making the jump to college and will play at Portland State next year.

The North Bay League’s top player should find her way in the fast-paced style of the Big Sky Conference’s defending regular season champion. Getting playing time depends on her adjustment to the rigors of top tier college basketball.

“It’s going to be a big wake up call for me. I should hopefully be on the floor,” Henry said. “I’m really excited.”

Portland State’s coaches liked Henry’s skills enough to offer a scholarship. She is expected to sign a formal letter of intent in April. School officials can’t comment on new players until then.

Henry’s ability to shoot from deep, on the drive and keep firing through cold streaks impressed the handful of college recruiters who scouted her, said Ursuline coach Jeff Paul.

“They liked her athleticism, determination, competitive spirit,” he said.

Oregon took a long look and ultimately recommended Henry to Portland State. The Big Sky’s highest scoring team, the Vikings push the ball on offense, looking to score in transition.

“Their mentality is you’re open, you shoot. That’s what they preach in their program,” Paul said. “That fits right into what Jordan can do very well. She truly has a shooter’s mentality.”

Scoring better than 21 points a game this season, Henry was the North Bay League’s top player and is headed for another All-Empire selection after earning first team honors as both a sophomore and junior.

Shooting about as often from 3-point range as closer in, Henry played stronger around the basket this season. Henry improved her driving game and was banged around as a result. Scoring nearly a third of her points on free throws, Henry shot 82 percent from the foul line.

Improving her shooting from the field is a goal. Henry recognizes greater accuracy inside the 3-point arc is important because she will have fewer shots in college.

“I need to work on consistency. I need to get stronger,” she said.

Not just a scorer, Henry pulled down 6 rebounds and averaged 2 blocks a game this season. Still, her defense is a work in progress.

“I’ve never been pushed to play defense,” she said. “You have to play defense in college if you want to get on the court.”

Already preparing for the Vikings’ training camp in July, she is working with a personal trainer and running in addition to staying sharp on the court. Henry also will take summer school classes and plans to major in English with hopes of one day being a magazine writer.

“I don’t want to look like a freshman. I want to be stronger,” Henry said.

Gaining a mentally tougher approach to the game as the focal point of defenses will help in adjusting to the college game. Henry was held to 14 points in a tight season ending loss at Cloverdale in the North Coast Section playoffs after Ursuline finished second in the NBL.

“It wasn’t the way we wanted to season to end,” Henry said, noting Ursuline is closing after this school year. “I loved my team, the last Ursuline team.”

More playoff basketball could await Henry.

Portland State won its first Big Sky regular season championship this season and played in the NIT after losing the conference tournament title game. A year ago, the Vikings won the Big Sky title and played in the NCAA tournament.

“That’s pretty cool,” she said.