When Mitch Henderson ’98 greeted the media as Princeton’s new head coach of men’s basketball April 21, he was flanked by two poster-sized photos: one of Henderson the player, leaping in celebration after Princeton’s 1996 win over UCLA, and the other of Henderson the coach, on the sidelines at Northwestern, where he was an assistant to former Tiger coach Bill Carmody for 11 seasons.
Henderson thanked his mentors, Carmody and Pete Carril, and said that he valued the chance to work at an institution committed to excellence in both academics and basketball. “I just know how rare that is,” he said. “So this is a special opportunity, and I don’t forget that.”
Gary Walters ’67, the director of athletics, said that introducing Henderson, a four-year starter on some of Princeton’s finest teams, seemed like an “unnecessary exercise.” He added that by helping to build a winning program at Northwestern, “Mitch has earned the right to receive the reins.”
Henderson inherits a championship team from his predecessor, former teammate Sydney Johnson ’97. The 2010–11 Tigers were 25–7, shared the Ivy League title with Harvard, and fell one basket short against Kentucky, an eventual Final Four team, in their opening game at the NCAA Tournament. On April 5, less than three weeks after the Kentucky game, Johnson announced he was leaving Princeton to become the head coach at Fairfield University in Connecticut.