Cactus High’s Bradey Henige fills tall order as two-sport 7-footer

Cactus High junior Bradey Henige finished third in the nation in rebounding average and will enter his senior season drawing interest from college basketball recruiters. (Photo courtesy of Ed Russell Photography)

GLENDALE – Bradey Henige pulled up to Cactus High School and when uncurling out of the car with his mom, he towered over her and the students leaving the building at the end of the school day.

Walking through the school’s entrance, Henige ducked down to avoid bumping his head on the top of the door frame.

Needless to say, the 7-footer is no average junior.

Henige is not only one of the most dominant big men in Arizona, but also in the country. He finished his junior season with Cactus High’s boys basketball team averaging over 28 points and 20 rebounds per game, which ranked third in the nation.

Henige’s talents extend beyond the basketball court. He is also one of the leaders on the men’s volleyball team. As the team sits at 13-13 with six games left in the season, Bradey leads the team with 229 kills, 44 serving aces and the best hitting percentage at 28%.

“Obviously I am taller than everyone and overpowering, but my dad always raised me to be a point guard so I have always been trying to work on my little skills with the tighter handles and better shooting,” Henige said. “I think both basketball and volleyball benefit each other, volleyball helps with my footwork for basketball and it helps with my vertical.”

Josiah Hyslip, who has played basketball with Henige since the fifth grade, has continued to see him mature into a dominant force on the basketball court.

“I have been playing with Bradey since the fifth grade, and we have been best friends since then and I have seen his game develop a lot. Last year, we had a tournament in California and Matt Barnes was there,” Hyslip said of the former NBA player who spent 14 seasons in the league. “He told Bradey that in order for his game to develop to the next level he has to be mean.

Cactus High junior Bradey Henige finds playing volleyball helps his vertical leap on the basketball court as a two-sport star. (Photo courtesy of Ed Russell Photography)

Cactus High junior Bradey Henige finds playing volleyball helps his vertical leap on the basketball court as a two-sport star. (Photo courtesy of Ed Russell Photography)

“I am not saying that Bradey did not already play mean and attack the rim, but since that interaction with Matt Barnes I have seen his game become more aggressive and he wants to attack the rim harder and do greater things.”

Henige’s teammates and coaches see him as more than a highly gifted athlete. In their eyes, he is a leader, brother, son and friend.

“He is a leader,” said Jacob Minniefield, one of Bradey’s teammates on the basketball and volleyball teams. “I feel like the opportunities are always there with him, not only inside the locker room but outside the locker room. In class, he is always keeping me on task, and in the locker room he is always making sure we are focused if it is gameday or just practice.”

Henige takes pride in setting the example with his teams and around the school and hopes to continue his own growth while building on the legacy that his father and brother started at Cactus High School. His dad, Bob Henige, was a dominant force for Cactus during the 1980s and set all the school records during his career. He then went on to win a NAIA National Championship at GCU.

“I am trying to grow off not only my dad’s legacy but also my brother’s because he played here too,” Bradey said. “But it just pushes me to get better because my dad holds all the records here, and since I have come in as a freshman I have wanted to push myself to get better so I could eventually be better than him.”

Bob joined the Cobras basketball staff as an assistant before the start of last season, while his mom, Jana Henige, is the head coach for the men’s volleyball team.

“It is really special, especially having my mom and dad help coach,” Bradey said. “I can enjoy everything and enjoy the ride with them and them on my side with whatever I do.”

Bradey has received more attention from recruiters since his dominant junior season ended, but still the focus is not on what the future holds but instead on continuing to improve to become the best version of himself.

“A lot of people see this 7-foot big kid and for me he is just my funny kid who likes to make people laugh,” Jana said. “He is so much more than just an athlete, he is the whole package.”

Bret David bret DAY-vid
Sports Reporter, Phoenix

Bret David expects to graduate in May 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and a minor in business. David, who is assigned to Cronkite Sports this semester, plans to continue his education at Arizona State University in pursuit of a sports law degree.