Neosho's Collier Hendricks finding rhythm among group of seniors

Jan. 18—NEOSHO, Mo. — Once a shooter begins to feel it from beyond the arc, they can't help but let it fly.

That's been the case for Neosho junior Collier Hendricks as of late.

During a home game against Willard last Friday, Hendricks attempted six 3-pointers and made five on his way to an 18-point performance.

"He has that potential so it's not like I'm surprised," head coach Zane Culp said. "He just hadn't had a game quite like that even though he had it in him. He came out at the perfect time when other people were moving a little slow."

He followed that game up with 13 points on 3-for-7 shooting Monday night against McDonald County.

The lefty has tallied 31 points in the team's last two games for an average of 15.5 points per game while shooting 8 for 13 from the 3-point line. He only had 10 made 3-pointers for the year prior to those games.

After Friday's game, Hendricks noted that it felt like a "breaking out of the shell" game. That might have been because of his eight games prior.

"It just builds confidence," he said. "As a shooter, it's easy to lose confidence if you have a bad game. This boosts everything. COC (conference) play is coming and that's where we need everything the most. So if I can just hit, not six, but two or three a game, then we're on perfect track."

The spot-up shooter went just 2 for 14 from outside over that eight-game stretch. He didn't make a single triple in seven of those eight games. The only game he managed to cash in from deep was on Jan. 5 against Francis Howell in the first round of the Kaminsky Classic. Hendricks went 2 for 4 in that contest and scored 13 points.

Hendricks is the only junior getting consistent varsity minutes for the Wildcats. He's playing alongside seven seniors who have all gotten plenty of varsity experience prior to this year. He doesn't hesitate to credit those seven teammates for some of his success this season. Hendricks also says their experience has helped him learn from them.

"They welcome me with open arms," Hendricks said. "We're all a big family. They make it easy to play. It's easy when you have good players surrounding you to get open looks.

"It's a big learning curve. We have Brock Franklin who's played varsity for four years. Isaiah (Green) who's played for three and everybody else has played for two so there's a lot of experience."

This is his first taste of varsity experience and he noted that there's been a lot to learn so far as he's been adjusting from the junior varsity game. Most of the adjusting comes from the difference in game speed from junior varsity to varsity. He added that the seniors have taught him most how to handle the pressure and stay confident even when things aren't going his way.

Coach has noticed cohesion between Hendricks and the senior class this year as well.

"He just gelled with them. You wouldn't really look out there and think he's a junior with the way he plays, in my opinion," Culp said. "It can be different for a kid who's played with another group of boys his whole life and then just to be thrust into that and we expect him to do big things in big moments. He's stepped up to the challenge and he's gotten better as the season has went."

Hendricks' other top games in the 2022-23 season are from the early part of the year in December. In just the second game of the year, Hendricks scored 10 points and shot 2 for 6 on 3-pointers. The next day, in the second round of a tournament in Pea Ridge, Arkansas, he tallied 8 points and shot 1 for 2 from deep. On Dec. 16 against Seneca, the slim shooter scored 8 points again and shot a perfect 2 for 2 from beyond the arc.

In Neosho's first three games, Hendricks was 4 for 11 from deep. He went 4 of 12 in the next four games before hitting that rough stretch. He's up to 18 of 50 overall, for 36%.

If you do the math, 36% on 3-pointers means he's scoring a little more than one point per attempt. In other words, he has 54 points on 50 attempts this year and his team is averaging a point each time he shoots from outside.