By Trey Williams
To say that Trevor Hensley ended his college career on a tear is not one of happy endings – not entirely, at least.
Hensley, the all-time leading scorer for the Unicoi County basketball program, had an injury-riddled career come to an injury-shortened end when he tore a patella tendon in the final weeks of his career last month.
But that didn’t keep Milligan University coach Bill Robinson from starting Hensley on Senior Day. Hensley couldn’t run but took the court for the opening tip.
As if the basketball gods were smiling down, the opening tip ended up out of bounds and Milligan was able to immediately substitute for Hensley without having to take a timeout or foul to stop the clock.
“Somehow the ball got tapped out of bounds and we didn’t have to do anything like foul,” Robinson said. “And we subbed for him and he got a standing ovation. It was like it was meant to be. It was emotional for me and probably emotional for him.
“He had such a tough career with all of the injuries. This one will finally require surgery.”
Hensley isn’t bitter.
“The blessing to play college basketball will be something I cherish for the rest of my life,” he said. “Basketball has its ups and downs as always but the people and relationships I created through this game are irreplaceable. It’s hard to pinpoint one single favorite memory. Through the years as players come and go I continued to find relationships that I know will last a lifetime.”
Hensley averaged a career-high 12 points per game in 23 games this season. He scored 629 points during a career that was shortened to 62 games (10.1 ppg).
“I think he could’ve scored 1,500 points if he was healthy,” Robinson said.
The Hensley family, Robinson says, has been a tremendous help with the program. International players might stay a week at their home during breaks.
“It’s just an unbelievable family,” Robinson said.
Hensley’s brother Nicholas, a 6-foot-4 sophomore, plays for the Milligan Junior Varsity. Robinson said Nicholas, who will go to New Zealand for a visit with Milligan’s Finn McClure this summer, has taken significant strides of late.
And their brother Grant set a single-season record for 3-pointers as a junior this season at Unicoi County. Trevor intends to dedicate himself to helping Grant reach his high ceiling.
“I want to turn my focus from my game to my brother Grant’s,” Trevor said. “I won’t be concerned with getting my shots up, so it’s time to focus on getting his up and improving his game full-time. He and I have already worked out scheduling for this offseason to commit full-time hours to sharpening his skills. I believe that his potential is through the roof and we’re going to do everything in our power to prepare him to showcase that this coming winter.
“I am very excited for his future. He is an extremely hard worker, and in this game, those who commit to the process are the ones who reap the reward.”
Trevor is also eager to see what’s within reach for coach Jordan Simmons’ Blue Devils next season.
“Coach Simmons is leading an army of hungry players into next season,” Trevor said. “Those kids work hard. You could see it this year from the guys who played every minute of the games to the very end of the bench. The future is bright in that locker room. They had a good season last year but we all be tuned in ready to watch them bounce back stronger next year.”
Hensley wouldn’t rule out coaching in the future. For now, he’ll work with his brother and use his accounting education to work on some taxes.
“I think coaching would be a great avenue for him if he wants to do it,” Robinson said.
Hensley’s basketball journey filled him with gratitude.
“I would also like to dedicate an immense amount of appreciation to all those around me through a career that has nearly lasted two decades at this point,” he said. “From my family at home that always supported me, the coaches and trainers that continually invested their time and knowledge into me and the doctors and PTs that kept me as healthy as I could be to finish my career, I can’t express enough gratitude for these people. Mom (Wendy Rice Hensley), dad (Paul), Nanna (Wilma Rice), coaches (Michael) Smith, (Ben) Evely, Simmons, Coach Rob (Robinson), Mike (Featherston), Will (Robinson) and so many more, I thank you from the bottom of my heart. The journey has been incredible.
“And lastly, to my grandfather (Kenneth Rice) I lost my freshmen year, no matter what adversity I went through or will go through in the future, I fought and will fight to make you proud. This career is owed to you as well. Thank you, papaw.”
Hensley’s ability to play with pain certainly made Robinson proud.
“He was just starting to play really well,” Robinson said. “And then he didn’t practice for probably the last month. He was limping to the finish line.”