At first, Micaiah Henry planned a number of visits. The graduate transfer forward from Tennessee Tech was going to search high and low for the best fit — athletically and academically — for his final season of college basketball.
But after stop No. 1, Henry feels like all the traveling and researching might be over.
“I did have a lot more visits planned,” Henry told The State on Wednesday night, “but I really like South Carolina going into this weekend, so they definitely raised the bar very high. They definitely accelerated the process. I’m really just talking things over with my family and the people in my circle and just seeing what my next move is.
“But I’ll definitely have a decision very soon.”
Henry graduated from Tennessee Tech last Saturday and began his visit to USC on Monday. He left Columbia on Wednesday morning after meeting with not only Frank Martin and the basketball staff, but folks in the Darla Moore School of Business.
“I was a finance major in undergrad and I’m hoping to get my MBA with a concentration in finance,” Henry said. “So that’s like a big preliminary thing for me. If a school doesn’t have my program, I’m just going to not end up going there.
“But the reputation of the Darla Moore School of Business … I had actually heard about the school from family friends and people I’m associated with here in Tennessee. I just know the level of the degree would be great.”
The 6-foot-9, 235-pound Henry averaged 9.7 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.8 blocks per game (second-best in the Ohio Valley Conference) this past season at TTU. The Golden Eagles made a coaching change when it was over, replacing Steve Payne with John Pelphrey.
“I’m sure he’ll do a great job there with the guys,” Henry said of Pelphrey, a former Arkansas head coach. “He’ll have a good team coming back and I’m pretty sure he’ll be successful over there.
“But for my last year, I just want to be somewhere that’s a little bit more established and had a track record of success and somewhere that just had a culture and a way of doing things already set.”
After Felipe Haase’s transfer in late April, the Gamecocks were in need of an experienced big man. Martin soon flew out to Tennessee to meet with Henry.
“We talked for a little bit,” Henry said. “And we both left good impressions on each other. And that led me to come visit this week.”
Henry is South Carolina’s main option to fill its lone open scholarship. His visit made that clear.
“It’s a real family atmosphere over there for one, but the transparency with everybody on staff is what really stood out to me the most,” Henry said. “Everybody was totally honest with me. They told me the things I would love, they were real with me about the program, where they were, what they expected out of me, what they hope to get, what they hope to accomplish.
“So that transparency was a big deal for me. I just felt like a huge sense of cohesiveness throughout the program, from the top with Frank all the way down to the bottom. And that’s from all the coaches to the strength program to academics. Throughout that whole process, I just felt like they really do a good job to make sure the players have the best experience possible.”
Henry flew to Lamar University (Texas) on Thursday morning for, at it stands now, his final visit.
Asked for a timeline on a decision, Henry said it could come in the next 10 days.