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Henry returns to Bulls.

The EnviroNz Franklin Bulls are excited to announce the return of 2020 signing Leon Henry to the roster for the Sal’s NBL 2022 season.

The name Leon Henry is well known throughout the New Zealand basketball scene. The 7-time Sal’s NBL champion is fresh off his latest title escapade with the 2021 Wellington Saints where he averaged 9.0 points and 5.2 rebounds per game whilst shooting 42% from 3.

Henry knows what winning teams look like and his commitment is a vote of confidence towards the direction the EnviroNZ Bulls are taking as a franchise. 2022 will be the chance to represent his hometown and play for the team that he was slated to lead in 2020.

Henry was the first ever signing for the EnviroNZ Bulls in 2020, and as GM, Scott Kelso puts it, “a huge day in club history”.

Leon Henry stands with Founding GM, Jamie Reddish in 2019.

But in March 2020 Covid-19 prevented the normal Sal’s NBL league from going ahead, meaning Henry and the Bulls wouldn’t be able to take the court as planned. The 2020 season was played in a hybrid league played over 6 weeks in one central location in Auckland and was titled the Sal’s NBL Showdown. All players were selected through a draft system.

“So much changed in an instant. Plans were tipped upside down for everyone. It was a tough time for all. We signed Leon to the 2020 Sal’s NBL and this wasn’t played. We got the chance to get on court with the Sal’s NBL Showdown, which was a huge success, however it wasn’t what we all had planned for,” says Kelso.

The feelings were the same for Henry: “I was personally frustrated with the league direction and covid because we were in the unknown. It was an interesting & challenging time for everyone.”

Leon Henry wasn’t the only signing that was unable to suit up for the Bulls in 2020. Luke Aston & Jayden Bezzant were also expected to play for the Bulls in the 2020 Sal’s NBL - but Covid-19 & Sal’s NBL Showdown changed those plans.

2022 however sees the potential of a return to some sense of normality, and with Henry’s return to South Auckland now permanent, it made sense for the Bulls coaching team and Leon to begin talks. This was spearheaded by Head Coach Morgan Maskell in consultation with former Head Coach and GM, Jamie Reddish and current GM Scott Kelso.

“This is a huge day for South Auckland. Leon is a favourite son and it’s only fitting to have him come home to play and hopefully stay for the rest of his playing career. He’s passionate about supporting our young guys and helping them achieve their goals. I can’t wait to see our first ever signing finally take the court; 3 years in the making. We can only pray it is not affected too much by Covid-19.” Adds Kelso

Head Coach Maskell is delighted with Henry’s signing saying, “Leon knows how to win in this league. We have a lot of young players that are early in their career and they are striving to reach the next level; the knowledge and winning habits that Leon will be able to imbue on his teammates will be invaluable to us this season. He’s an intelligent basketball player, he’s tough, a great shooter, versatile defensively and a superb rebounder. He’s exactly what we need”

Leon knows that Coach Maskell is the right man for the job, and a big reason why he committed to the EnviroNZ Franklin Bulls in 2022.

“Morgan has been around Zico Coronel; there are similarities in their understanding of the game. I have nothing but utmost respect for what Zico has achieved to this point, and I believe Morgan is the next in line to not only build this organisation, but to give back to more kiwi athletes who don’t get access to expertise such as Morgan’s,” exclaims Henry.

“The belief that Head Coach Morgan Maskell & Sione (Maama, Bulls Assistant Coach) have in myself as a valuable piece for the team, (and) I believe I can give back to the organisation with the wealth of knowledge and experience I have in the game.”

Leon attended Mt Albert Grammar School & Avondale College in Auckland before plying his trade in American college basketball for the College of Southern Idaho.

Henry Celebrates his 7th Championship. Wellington Saints 2021

Along with his 7 championships and 10 Sal’s NBL grand final appearances, Henry has won three Australian NBL championships with the New Zealand Breakers in 2011, 2012 and 2013 respectively. He was also the 2015 Australian NBL slam dunk champion. Henry was the 2013 Sal’s NBL final four MVP and has an All-Star 5 to his name as well. Henry is a name in the record books of the Sal’s NBL for other reasons as well, including: most 3 pointers in the history of the NBL 11 in a game, and most rebounds in a game in Saints history 21 rebounds.

Leon very proudly represents Mangere and South Auckland with a rich history of Polynesian success. Leon himself has Samoan, Niuean, Cook Island heritage from the villages of Nofoali’i, Tamakautoga & Aituaki respectively. His uncle was one of the founders of the Polyensian Panthers; another uncle was the first Polyensian basketball player in the Sal’s NBL; another uncle currently sits at the table for the Samoan Government; and his great grandfather was the first prime minister of the Cook Islands.

Henry’s signing will bolster an already strong kiwi lineup of Denhym Brooke, Kane Bennett-Keil, Jayden Bezzant, Anzac Rissetto, Josh Leger, Jett Thompson, Christian Martin and Adam Dunstan. “Players like Kane, Jayden, Anzac who I've seen grow over the past few years have given me confidence that this group is going to be special, the goal is to be the hottest ticket in town, and I’m looking forward to bonding & building trust, understanding, and the discipline for us to be great.” says Henry.

The Bulls tip off their season on May 1st, away in Hawkes Bay against the 2021 finalist Hawks. The league was pushed back due to the Omicron outbreak.

Season memberships available now -

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