Athletes rise above themselves and their capabilities to define greatness, and what comes along with that are the bonds that can last a lifetime.
From being opponents in third grade, teammates in sixth grade through high school and now a journey into college basketball together, third-year Cal Poly Pomona students Tavian Henderson and BJ Standley have had an immense history.
Both Henderson and Standley currently play for the CPP men’s basketball team. Standley plays as the starting point guard, while Henderson stands as a guard/forward.
The childhood friends graduated from Saint Patrick – Saint Vincent High School in Vallejo, California.
After high school, they both decided to take their basketball talents to Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Washington, for two years and then transferred to CPP to play for the Broncos and continue as teammates.
Head coach Greg Kamansky recruited the two from Saint Martin’s University and they happened to be the perfect fit for the Broncos. Kamansky mentioned that two years ago, Saint Martin’s even beat CPP in the national tournament.
Growing up, Standley’s basketball inspirations were National Basketball Association (NBA) All-Stars Chris Paul and Steve Nash, and Henderson’s idol was the back-to-back (2002-2003) NBA slam dunk contest winner Jason Richardson. Standley and Henderson’s style of play certainly reflects Nash’s smart point-guard mentality and Richardson’s remarkable athleticism.
Kamansky was looking for a great basketball handler and decision maker which made Standley become very important to the Broncos. Not only is Standley a strong shooter on the court, he facilitates the offense effectively. His uplifting personality and skills influenced the Broncos’ offense and has made it exceptionally strong.
Standley’s strong attributes to the team don’t overshadow Henderson’s athleticism. Although Henderson isn’t always a top scorer for the Broncos, he is a completely different player. Kamansky referred to him as the “best athlete on the team and a great defender.”
He emphasized how the two are very different but somehow their unique relationship works.
“They’re almost polar opposites of each other,” Kamansky said. “Even their personalities are polar opposites, Tavian is more quiet and reserved, while BJ is more outgoing and happy. It’s just funny because they’re best friends and ‘opposites attract’ is shown right there for you.”
With this dynamic duo on the court, the fans in the stands are always in for a show.
Standley’s quick ball-handling skills throw the crowds in for a surprise, while Henderson’s emphatic dunks get the Bronco fans on their feet and roaring with cheers.
Standley’s outlook on the game and his language on the court correspond with Henderson’s, which results in exhilarating assists.
“The best thing (about playing with Henderson) is his high IQ,” Standley said. “I always know where he is out on the court. I just have a really good feel about him out there.”
Even though they don’t see themselves as a package deal, they’ve stuck together throughout their basketball journeys.
“It kind of was just the way the cards fell,” Henderson said. “It wasn’t like planned or anything that we were going to go to this school because they offered us a scholarship or this and that. It just happened that way.”
Standley is a third-year management human resources student as opposed to Henderson, majoring in computer information systems. Their ambitions and dreams go beyond the game of basketball. Standley hopes to play overseas at some point and also find ways to help his community in Vallejo. Henderson’s dream, on the other hand, is to work for Pixar because it will remind him of his childhood.
It has become much more than basketball for these two. The friendship that they both have developed for each other has become more of a brotherhood.
When asked to describe each other in one word, Standley described Henderson as “goofy.” Complementing Standley’s response, Henderson said Standley is “hilarious.” The chemistry of brotherhood and a mutual love for the game of basketball has connected them at a larger level.
With one more season left to play for the Broncos, Standley and Henderson will be leading seniors in the upcoming year to add on to their tremendous history.
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