Fast paced. Exciting. Hard-nosed. Tough. Fun.
Those are just a few of the adjectives used to describe UTSA men’s basketball head coach Steve Henson’s style of play.
Henson is in his eighth year leading the Roadrunners in 2023-24. He was named the sixth head men’s basketball coach in UTSA history on April 1, 2016. In his seven seasons, Henson – the 2017-18 C-USA Coach of the Year – has implemented an exciting brand of basketball that produced the program’s best seasons of UTSA’s tenure in Conference USA.
The Roadrunners enter their inaugural season in the American Athletic Conference with almost entirely new personnel, with a retooled roster to meet the moment of this new era for UTSA basketball.
Henson’s teams have been highlighted over the last few years by the dynamic play of scoring dynamos in guards Jhivvan Jackson and Keaton Wallace. The duo formed the second-highest scoring pair from a single recruiting class in college basketball history and ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in school annals in total scoring. Jackson – the only three-time scoring champ in league history – finished his career as the 52nd all-time scorer in collegiate basketball and Wallace checked in No. 452.
The pair kept scoreboard operators busy throughout their careers and finished in 2020-21 in helping lead UTSA to a 15-11 record and a 9-7 mark in conference play. UTSA won 10 of its final 13 games, while ranking in the top 40 in college basketball in scoring offense and total rebounds per game.
UTSA ranked among the nation’s top 40 teams in pace of play four times in the last seven years, checking in No. 37 in 2020-21, No. 24 in 2019-20, No. 19 in 2018-19 and No. 29 in 2017-18.
In 2019-20, Henson's club continued to progress under his tutelage, including the play of Jackson and Wallace. A pair of elite scoring threats, Henson's system was tailor made for the dynamic duo, allowing the freedom for the guards to loft 3-pointers and sprint up and down the floor. Jackson finished the year ranked second in the NCAA with 27.2 points per game, lighting up scoreboards throughout the nation en route to All-Conference USA honors.
In Henson’s third season at the helm, he helped direct the Roadrunners to a bevy of accomplishments. UTSA finished 17-15 and 11-7 in C-USA play, earning a tie for second in the league standings and a No. 4 seed in the league championships. It marked the highest tournament seed for the Roadrunners since 2005.
The 2018-19 successes were buoyed by a pair of dynamic scoring sophomores, Jackson and Wallace. The pair led the nation in scoring among backcourts, with Jackson winning the league scoring title with 22.9 points per game, and Wallace adding 20.2. Jackson earned first-team All-District honors from the NABC and the USBWA and first-team all-conference honors by the league coaches and media. Wallace was tabbed first-team All-District by the NABC and second-team by the league coaches. The pair put on a show throughout the season, with Jackson totaled 23 games of at least 20 points over his 24 starts, while recovering from a season-ending injury as a freshman and returning on a minutes-restriction for his first five games. Jackson upped his averages from a year ago in each category, including scoring (18.4 ppg to 22.9), rebounds per game (3.2 to 4.1), free-throw percentage (76.8 to 84.6), assists per game (1.8 to 2.4) and steals per game (1.0 to 1.2). Wallace shined throughout, moving from 11.4 points per game as a freshman to 20.2 in his encore season. He improved his rebounding mark from 3.1 to 5.0, his free-throw shooting percentage (74.2 to 85.6), 3-point shooting percentage (33.2 to 38.2) and his steals per game (0.8 to 1.3). Wallace set the program single-season mark for threes made, with Jackson owning the second-most in school history.
Among the highlights of Henson’s third campaign included a school record for the largest comeback, as the Roadrunners thrilled a Convocation Center crowd to rally from down 18 points with just over four minutes remaining vs. league champion Old Dominion, winning it on Wallace’s last second trey from the corner. It marked the second-largest comeback in NCAA history. UTSA sported a seven-game winning streak midway through the year, its longest in 30 years.
The Roadrunners ranked 20th in the NCAA in pace of play in 2018-19 according to KenPom, good enough for third in C-USA and third in the state of Texas.
UTSA finished its 2018-19 season with an 11-4 home record UTSA had the second largest home winning streak in program history (eight). Overall under Henson, the Roadrunners are 34-11 at The Convo.
UTSA also rode career scoring outings from Jackson and Wallace, with Jackson sporting 46 points at WKU, the most points scored in a game in C-USA history. Two nights later, Wallace went for 45 points at Marshall, the second-most in league annals.
The 2017-18 season, Henson’s second season in San Antonio, proved to be one of the Roadrunners most successful of the decade. The team finished 20-15 overall, including an 11-7 C-USA record, a 12-4 home mark and only the program’s second postseason victory. The Roadrunners placed fifth in the C-USA standings, defeated UTEP in the opening round of the league tournament, then earned an invitation to the 2018 CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) where they hosted and defeated Lamar before bowing out in the event’s quarterfinal.
In addition to the 20 wins, which were the most for UTSA since the 2010-11 season, the program ranked sixth in the NCAA with an average of 28.9 defensive rebounds per game, 13th in overall rebounding at 39.8 per game, 16th with 353 made 3-pointers and in the top 20 percent with a scoring average of 78.3 points per game. Among C-USA teams UTSA ranked third in scoring, tops in rebounding and 3-pointers made per game (10.1) along with second in defensive field goal percentage (41.6).
Individually the Roadrunners collected numerous awards throughout the season and postseason. Henson was named the 2017-18 Conference USA Gene Bartow Coach of the Year and the NABC District 11 Coach of the Year; Jackson was named the C-USA Freshman of the Year, Second Team All-Conference USA, All-Freshman Team and also garnered seven Freshman of the Week plaudits; Deon Lyle earned C-USA Sixth Player of the Year honors and Wallace was named to the C-USA All-Freshman team along with picking up three C-USA Freshman of the Week awards. Moreover, Jackson set the UTSA freshman scoring record with 534 points, while also ranking as the sixth-leading frosh scorer in the NCAA, while Lyle tied the UTSA single-season 3-point record with 96, which ranked 44th in the nation.
Statistically, the 2017-18 Roadrunners improved in 15 categories over the previous season, including a plus-80 RPI improvement, a plus-22 increase in points per game and increases of at least five percentage points in both overall field goal percentage and 3-point field goal percentage. Additionally, each of the seven returners increased their overall field goal percentage, six increased their points per game, five their rebounds per game and four their 3-point field goal percentage.
In 2016-17, Henson’s first season directing the Roadrunners, the program more than doubled its win total from the year prior from five to 14. Included in the 14 wins were a school record-tying eight Conference USA victories, the program’s first C-USA tournament win and a triumph over I-35 rival Texas State. Moreover, UTSA defeated three of the C-USA’s top four team with its wins over Louisiana Tech, Old Dominion and UTEP.
UTSA also established a home court advantage at the Convocation Center in Henson’s first season. The Roadrunners won their first eight home games for the program’s best start in San Antonio since the 1991-92 season. UTSA finished the season 11-3 in the Alamo City for its most home wins since the 2010-11 team also went 11-3.
Henson also directed the Roadrunners to one of the most improved defensive teams in the nation. In the year prior to Henson’s arrival, UTSA ranked in the bottom five of Division I, allowing opponents to shoot 50.8 percent from the field and 40.8 percent behind the arc en route to 84.3 points per game. Under Henson’s tutelage, the Roadrunners cut those numbers down to 43.4 percent shooting from the field, 35 percent behind the arc and just 69.4 points allowed per game. The team’s 69.4 points allowed ranked in the top third of Division I and UTSA limited opponents to fewer than 60 points nine times after doing so just once the year prior.
Henson’s 2016-17 UTSA squad also ranked among the best in the nation on the glass, where it led Conference USA with 39.2 rebounds per outing, ranking 27th in NCAA. The Roadrunners were particularly effective on the offensive glass and ranked 26th in the nation with 12.9 offensive boards per game. The squad also ranked in the top 100 for total rebounds and defensive rebounds per game.
UTSA saw great contributions from first-year players in 2016-17 as newcomers accounted for three of the team’s top four scorers. That group was led by Jeff Beverly, who averaged 15.8 points per game and was a finalist for the Conference USA Newcomer of the Year award. The group also included a pair of freshmen, Giovanni De Nicolao and Byron Frohnen, who were the only freshmen in Conference USA to start all of their team’s games during the season. Frohnen averaged 8.5 points and led all league rookies with 6.7 rebounds per game on his way to five double-doubles and C-USA All-Freshman Team honors, while De Nicolao averaged 8.2 points per game, including 9.1 points per outing in league contests.
Henson came to the Alamo City with 15 years of coaching experience — in which his teams posted a winning record 12 times — most recently as an assistant coach under Lon Kruger at Oklahoma.
During his five seasons with the Sooners (2011-16), Henson helped guide the squad to four consecutive 20-win seasons and NCAA Tournament berths, culminating this spring with the program’s fifth appearance in the Final Four and its first since 2002. Oklahoma also saw an increase in its win total in each of the last five campaigns.
Mentoring the Sooners’ guards, Henson was instrumental in the development of two-time Big 12 Conference Player of the Year Buddy Hield, who led all Power 5 conference players in scoring during the 2015-16 season at 25.0 points per game and he owns the Big 12 scoring record with 2,291 career points, which also ranks second in Oklahoma history. Additionally, Hield earned the Oscar Robertson Trophy, the Naismith College Player of the Year Award, the John R. Wooden Award and he was named the Sporting News Player of the Year. Hield also took home the Jerry West Award (nation’s top shooting guard) and he was a finalist for the Senior CLASS Award. Following the season, Hield was selected No. 6 overall by the New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA Draft.
Prior to his time in Norman, Henson spent seven seasons with Kruger at UNLV (2004-11) and he aided the Runnin’ Rebels to a 161-71 (.694) record, six postseason appearances (four NCAA Tournaments) and a pair of Mountain West Conference Tournament titles. UNLV averaged 23 wins per year during his time and following a 30-7 mark and run to the 2007 Sweet 16, Rivals.com recognized Henson as one of the top 25 assistant coaches in the nation.
Henson spent a season as an assistant coach at South Florida (2003-04) following a two-year stint in the NBA as a member of the Atlanta Hawks staff. He served as an advance scout for the 2001-02 campaign and made the move to the bench as an assistant coach for the 2002-03 season.
Henson got his start in coaching under Kruger as an assistant at Illinois (1999-2000) when he helped the Illini to a 22-10 record and an NCAA Tournament berth.
A native of McPherson, Kan., Henson was a four-year starting point guard at Kansas State from 1986-90. He earned All-Big Eight Conference honors as a junior and senior and also was named an honorable mention All-American and team captain during each of his final two seasons. He was the first player in school history to play in four consecutive NCAA Tournaments and as a sophomore in 1987-88, he helped guide the Wildcats to a 25-9 record and a spot in the Elite Eight.
Henson led Kansas State in scoring his final two years by averaging 18.5 points per game as a junior and 17.4 points per game as a senior. He holds three of the top four single-season free throw percentages in school history, including an NCAA-leading .925 mark as a sophomore, while he finished second in the country as a junior (.920).
He still holds all-time program records for assists (582), assists per game (4.58), free-throw percentage (.900), minutes played (4,474), minutes per game (35.2), starts (118), consecutive games played (127) and consecutive starts (118). Henson ranks among the best in school annals in nine other categories, including 3-point field goals (240/2nd), 3-point field goal percentage (.447/2nd), steals (190/2nd), 3-point field goal attempts (537/3rd), free throws (361/4th), assist-to-turnover ratio (1.98/4th), scoring (1,655/6th), games played (127/7th) and field goals (527/7th).
Henson also was a decathlete at Kansas State, placing third as a sophomore and junior at the Big Eight Championships. As a junior at the 1989 league meet, he finished third overall with 6,886 points, winning the javelin and high jump and placing second in the discus, pole vault and 1,500-meter run. Henson was named to the Kansas State All-Century Team that was selected in February 2003 and he was inducted into the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in October 2009. Additionally, he was inducted into the Kansas State Athletics Hall of Fame in October 2013.
After graduating from Kansas State in 1990 with a degree in human movement, he was picked by the Milwaukee Bucks in the second round of the 1990 NBA Draft with the 44th overall selection. Henson played for the Bucks, Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Portland Trail Blazers and Detroit Pistons during his seven-year NBA career as well as two seasons in Italy with additional stops in the Continental Basketball Association (CBA) and Greece for a total of nine professional seasons.
Prior to his time in Manhattan, Kan., Henson was a two-time first-team all-state selection at McPherson High School, where he played for his father, Mike, and he was named Mr. Basketball for the state of Kansas in 1986. In addition, Henson was a Junior Olympic National Champion in both the decathlon and high jump and a Kansas high school state champion in both the javelin and high jump.
He and his wife, Cindy, have two sons, Quinton and Pearson.
The Steve Henson File
2016-Present: Head Coach, UTSA
2011-16: Assistant Coach, Oklahoma
2004-11: Assistant Coach, UNLV
2003-04: Assistant Coach, South Florida
2002-03: Assistant Coach, Atlanta Hawks (NBA)
2001-02: Advance Scout, Atlanta Hawks (NBA)
1999-2000: Assistant Coach, Illinois
Career Head Coaching Honors
2017-18: Conference USA Gene Bartow Coach of the Year
2017-18: NABC District 11 Coach of the Year
1999: Scavolini Pesaro (Italy)
1999: Detroit Pistons
1998-99: Panionios (Greece)
1998: Detroit Pistons
1997-98: Grand Rapids Hoops (CBA)
1995-97: Virtus Roma (Italy)
1994-95: Portland Trail Blazers
1994: Mexico City Aztecas (CBA)
1994: Fargo-Moorhead Fever (CBA)
1993-94: Rapid City Thrillers (CBA)
1993: Charlotte Hornets
1992-93: Atlanta Hawks
1992: La Crosse Catbirds (CBA)
1990-92: Milwaukee Bucks
1986-90: Kansas State
McPherson [Kan.] High School
Birthplace: Junction City, Kan.
Sons: Quinton, Pearson