Written by Sean Dahlin
BUENA VISTA, Va.—Prior to the Southern Virginia University men's basketball team earning a thrilling 96-87 overtime win over USCAA-rival The Apprentice School on Feb. 2, former men's basketball player Ryan Henderson was honored with the Pioneer Scholar-Athlete Award.
The Pioneer award was created this past summer to recognize those first coaches and scholar-athletes, who led by example and paved the way for others to follow. One pioneer scholar-athlete will be selected for each of the university's athletic programs and Southern Virginia's hall of fame committee selected Henderson as the Pioneer Award recipient for the men's basketball program.
"Ryan [Henderson] embodies what the Pioneer Scholar-Athlete Award is about," said first-year Head Coach Tony Caputo, who was also honored as a Southern Virginia Pioneer Coach the same evening. "Ryan was our first four-year player and starter in men's basketball, he graduated from Southern Virginia with honors as a solid student in the classroom and he served a mission."
Henderson, originally from Raleigh, N.C., played on the 1998-99 Southern Virginia men's basketball team—its second season as a program. Upon returning from a mission to Peru, he played his final three seasons as a starter for the Knights under then-Head Coach Don Chamberlain and then-assistant coach Caputo.
In his senior campaign, Henderson was the team's leading scorer (12.9 points-per-game) and ranked second on the team in rebounds (5.77 per-game).
"To this day, Ryan is one of the scholar-athletes in all my years at Southern Virginia that I most enjoyed coaching," said Caputo, who has been at Southern Virginia since 1998.
Henderson was one of the first men's basketball scholar-athletes to play all four years and graduate from Southern Virginia. He is married to Southern Virginia alumnus Karla Ballardes Henderson with their three children.
"I'm honored to receive such an award at the university that has meant so much to me," said Henderson. "I attribute many blessings in my life to the experiences I had and lessons I learned at Southern Virginia [University]."