Episcopal duo cemented bond, legacy at Philly school
Posted: Friday March 3, 2006 12:28PM; Updated: Monday April 10, 2006 10:06AM
Wayne Ellington (above) and Gerald Henderson are arguably Philly's greatest high school duo ever.
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
By Pete McEntegart, SI.com
When Wayne Ellington is stroking 3-pointers for the University of North Carolina over the next few seasons, Tar Heels fans will find themselves in the uncomfortable position of owing some gratitude to -- perish the thought! -- a Blue Devil.
That would be Dukie-in-waiting Gerald Henderson, a 6-foot-5 swingman and Ellington's best friend and teammate at Episcopal Academy in Merion, Pa., a Philadelphia suburb. Ellington arrived at Episcopal in the fall of 2003 as a sophomore transfer from Daniel Boone High in Reading, Pa. The 6-4 guard was moving to the Philadelphia area and looking for a school that could challenge him athletically and academically. He quickly realized that he might have underestimated the latter demand at Episcopal.
"If Gerald wasn't at Episcopal I think I would have left in two weeks because I just felt that uncomfortable," says Ellington. "I didn't know what to think. It was tough academically. Everybody already knew each other and had little social groups. But Gerald was comfortable here because he's been here forever. He introduced me to all his friends and helped me adjust."
In fairness, Henderson did have a bit of an ulterior motive -- he had already seen Ellington play basketball. The two first played together in an all-star game during the summer of 2003 and quickly discovered that their skills meshed as well on the court as their personalities did off of it. Henderson, who has attended Episcopal since the second grade, had been the leading scorer and rebounder of the Churchmen varsity squad, which finished 16-12 that season, as a freshman. Still, he realized that the addition of Ellington could make for a special team.
"I knew that we were going to need him in the upcoming season," says Henderson. "I needed help, the team needed help. So I tried to give him as much advice as I could to get him to stay. I wanted to get leaving out of his mind and have him thinking about basketball and how much success we would have."
Consider that mission accomplished. By pushing each other relentlessly on the court and spending most of their time together off of it, Ellington and Henderson have developed into two of the most sought-after high school players in the nation. Each has been named a McDonald's All-American and both have been picked for the 10-man USA Basketball Junior Select Team that will play a 19-and-under World team in April at the ninth annual Nike Hoop Summit.