It was one of those nights to remember. Longtime friends, former EA teammates, and now NBA rivals, Gerald Henderson '06 and Wayne Ellington '06 faced off at the Wells Fargo Center on Monday, November 21, as the Philadelphia 76ers took on the Miami Heat.
Nearly 600 Episcopal Academy students, alumni, faculty and staff attended the game, including retired EA basketball coach Dan Dougherty. After the game, Coach Doc, as he is fondly known, waited court-side along with the EA crowd to greet two of EA's greatest basketball alumni.
"They are two really good young adults and watching how they handle themselves made me proud," said Coach Doc.
With broad smiles, Henderson and Ellington walked over to the cheering crowd, embracing their former high school coach. "When they came out with smiles on their faces, they were surprised by the number of people who stayed to see them," observed Coach Doc.
Henderson told the group, "It's great to see so many Episcopal shirts. I appreciate you coming out and supporting us." Henderson then presented Coach Doc with a number 12 Sixers jersey with "Henderson" stitched on the back. "I was very much surprised. I was all over Wayne for not bringing me a jersey from the Miami Heat," said Coach Doc.
Gerald Henderson began at EA as a 2nd grader. Wayne Ellington arrived as a talented 10th grade basketball player. "He was a six foot four or five, thin kid. Now he's like an NFL quarterback. Big and strong."
Coach Doc recalls the players' friendship and rivalry began instantly. "Gerald took him [Wayne] under his wing the
first couple of months. They had chemistry from the beginning and made our team much better. They became the best of friends."
Throughout their high school careers, both players remained grounded and focused, but they were always competitive. "I taught both of them geometry," recalled Coach Doc. "They were so competitive. They carried it right into the classroom, always comparing test results. It just pushed them to greater heights, and I am proud of that."
Upon graduation from EA in 2006, the duo took their rivalry to North Carolina. Gerald Henderson played for Duke University. Wayne Ellington played for the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. In the limelight for much of their senior year, Coach Doc credits their families and EA education with keeping his former players grounded. "It molded them. They knew what to say, and they said it graciously. They have the right perspective on life."
Ellington told the group, "EA did a lot for both of us."
Pointing to a cluster of alumni, Henderson remarked, "It's crazy how fast time goes by." He said he is looking forward to re-connecting with classmates at an upcoming 10-year reunion gathering.
"I am happy to see people I taught as teenagers grow into successful adults. They are very appreciative, and it's good to see they are still humble," said Coach Doc.
The Sixers defeated the Heat 101-94.