USC-Salkehatchie head basketball coach as young as his team
WALTERBORO, S.C. (WCIV) — Tucked away in Walterboro, USC-Salkehatchie Junior College doesn’t get a lot of attention. The basketball program is pretty good, and even earned a trip to the national tournament two years ago.
But they’ve never had a story that stands out like their head coach.
Corey Hendren remembers his playing days fondly, but always knew he was going to be a head coach.
“I’ve loved the game of basketball for years,” he said. “Since I was a little kid, been watching it. I’ve known I want to be a coach for a while.”
Now he is for the first time at USC-Salkehatchie, focused on bringing a proud program back to national prominence.
“I’ve spent time studying the game, working with different coaches, going to every camp I can, working, going to the Final Four, doing the whole process to prepare myself for — well, I thought I’d be an assistant first, obviously, but now I get my own program to run and the transition has been crazy but it’s been great,” he said.
It’s even tougher because his team is so young. Most of the team ranges from 18 to 21 years old. That may not sound out of the norm, but then there’s Hendren’s age.
“It’s crazy because I’m only 22 years old,” he said.
Hendren can’t rent a car, but he’s calling all the shots and is the only paid coach on the staff.
“He’s a pretty good coach. Especially for his first year? Straight out of college? That young? He’s doing a good job,” said 21-year-old point guard Raheem Freeman.
“I don’t think the age is a factor as much as people would think. You just have to earn their respect and respect them,” said Hendren.
He says life as a junior college head coach is not exactly glamorous; he does everything, including laundry and sweep floors before and after practice. But there’s one area he Hendren doesn’t have experience.
“I haven’t sat down through 14 games. Not once. I thought I could sit down during the games but I just can’t do it,” he said.
“We don’t even leave him a chair anymore. He doesn’t use it,” said Rob Brendle, one of Hendren’s two assistants.
At 43, Brendle was coaching Hendren at Milligan College in Tennessee only to take an assistant position for him in the Lowcountry a year later.
“It’s not as weird as you’d think it would be. We were very close during his playing career,” Brendle said.
In the 14 games so far, Hendren’s team has racked up a 10-14 record, a strong start for the junior college.
“We’re young and inexperienced, but the way we’ve played has surprised a lot of people and I’m happy with where we’re at,” Hendren said.
It’s clear this coach and his players — all born in the 1990s — are already well on their winning ways.
Hendren believes he’s the youngest head coach in college basketball. But instead of focusing on the novelty, he says he wants to win as many games as possible at home send his players on to four-year colleges to finish their degrees and basketball careers. Click Below for Live Coverage