Kenny Roseman, the head coach of Cedar Hill Trinity High School outside Dallas, needed long jumpers for a local district meet. So he looked to sprinter and basketball player Darius “DJ” Henderson.
“First he asked me if I could dunk,” Henderson explained. “I was like, ‘Yeah I can dunk.’ And he said, ‘OK, you probably can jump then.'”
Roseman took a chance with him, and it has paid off in a way neither of them could have expected.
That’s how it all started for Henderson, currently the top high school long jumper in the nation. He is the latest Oregon recruit in the 2018 class, and signed with Oregon at the start of November.
A native of Duncanville, Texas, Henderson transferred out of Cedar Hill Trinity Christian and to Desoto High School for his senior year to compete against better competition in the larger 6A Division.
Desoto is known for being a track powerhouse, winning state championships in 2012 and 2016. It also has a reputation for training some of the best jumpers in the country, according to MileSplit.com
Henderson is relatively new to the long jump; he only started competing two years ago. He was an avid basketball player from age 9, and he ran the 4×100-meter on the Cedar Hill Trinity Christian track and field team.
His big break came at the Great Southwest Classic meet last June. After jumping mostly in the low-2o foot mark for most of the season, Henderson skyrocketed to 25 feet, 5-inches and a quarter. It was his best jump by almost two feet.
The head coach of the track and field team at Desoto, Donald Miller, was on the scene when Henderson won the meet. Henderson had gone to Desoto for his sophomore year, and they discussed his possible return.
“I believe he has got the potential to do great things. I think he is a 26, 27 foot long jumper,” said Miller. “He is fired up to go up there and be a part of Oregon track. … Hopefully do some great things for the university and get his education.”
That jump kickstarted the recruiting process because there were more than a few collegiate coaches at the meet.
“I think I set up five home visits at the meet,” Henderson said.
Henderson will look to follow in the footsteps of Damarcus Simpson, one of Oregon’s premier long jumper and a 2017 World Championship qualifier. Simpson, a senior, gave Henderson a tour of the facilities during his official visit.
While being recruited, Henderson seriously considered Florida State, Texas Tech, and Georgia. He said a key reason for his decision to come to Oregon was because of the relationship with the coaches at the facilities.
Specifically, Henderson has a close connection with assistant coach Seth Henson, who previously coached at the University of Texas.
“The facilities at Oregon are off the chain,” Henderson said. “It’s hard to beat Oregon.”
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