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Dean Hendrix-Davis plays every game like his last

Posted: February 14, 2014 9:37 p.m.
Updated: February 14, 2014 9:37 p.m.

Canyon senior basketball player Dean Hendrix-Davis returned to the court late last season after recovering from a broken rib and a dislocated collarbone from a car accident.

 

Dean Hendrix-Davis, just 16 years old, was pinned between the car seats of his Ford Explorer.

He had just woken up after his car tumbled 50 feet down an embankment after it hydroplaned on a rain-soaked road.

Two thoughts crossed his mind while emergency workers were about to use the Jaws of Life to pluck him out of the twisted vehicle.

“I want my mom,” was his first thought.

“Am I ever going to play again?” was his second.

Now 14 months removed from an accident Hendrix-Davis thought was a bad dream, the 17-year-old is playing again. And at a high level.

And the bad dream is a memory.

“That was a bad time. Just horrible,” Hendrix-Davis recalls. “The main thing is I was able to recover, which has made this season so much sweeter.”

Going into the 2012-13 season, Canyon head coach Sean DeLong said he needed Hendrix-Davis’ presence in the Cowboys lineup.

A team lacking size and power, Hendrix-Davis, at 6 feet, 3 inches tall and 175 pounds, was to be the team’s makeshift center.

He was that for part of the preleague season.

But the car accident took him out of action.

He suffered a broken rib, a dislocated collar bone and a fractured elbow.

The injury had a dual effect on Canyon.

“It made a big impact. We didn’t have a big man, so it was a struggle,” DeLong says. “We were kind of like brothers. It was weird not being with him for a couple of weeks.”

He returned on Jan. 22, 2013 in a game against Hart and played out the rest of his junior season. He is a captain on this year’s team and its top post presence, averaging 11.1 points, 5.8 rebounds per game and shooting 55 percent from the field.

And the bottom line is, Canyon is a much better team with him in the lineup.

The Cowboys went 3-7 without him last season and in the last two seasons they are 32-12 with him.

“He impacts us a lot,” says Canyon point guard Marc Cabrera. “The team without him, we wouldn’t be where we are.”

Cabrera was one of the first people to see Hendrix-Davis after the car accident.

The two are best friends and have known each other since the third grade.

DeLong could see how the two got along, so at times, he has used Hendrix-Davis as a filter for his messages to Cabrera.

Cabrera moved from a wing/shooting guard position last year to point guard this year.

With Cabrera handling the ball more, it’s more communication directly from head coach to player.

But sometimes communication from player to player works better so Hendrix-Davis, DeLong says, has been tasked as another message deliverer.

But he delivers the message in a different way.

“Dean’s a guy everyone respects,” DeLong says. “He’s not so much a vocal leader, but he works so hard. Everyone respects him.”

It’s sort of like Hendrix-Davis plays with a sense of urgency every time on the floor.

Almost like every game could be his last.

Maybe that’s because every one of his games since Dec. 19, 2013 should have been his last.

Canyon awaits its draw for the CIF-Southern Section playoffs.

The brackets will be released on Sunday.

Canyon ended its regular season with a 53-52 loss to Hart on Thursday night.

It was a major disappointment for a Canyon team set on spoiling Hart’s perfect Foothill League season and entering the playoffs with momentum.

DeLong says he told his players after the game that they now have one goal — “Don’t let the season end.”

You can believe that one player will do whatever it takes to make sure the season will continue.

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