Meet The Staff: Rob Hennigan

Director of College/International Player Personnel, Rob Hennigan estimates he sees more than 100 international and college games a year.
There was this one time in Finland where Rob Hennigan was so lost he had to hitchhike his way to a basketball game.

“That was bad,” he said.
Or there’s the time, while in Istanbul, Turkey, when Hennigan got food poisoning before a 13-hour flight to New York City.

“It felt like 14 months,” he said. “It was a disaster.”

Hennigan has many stories like the aforementioned. And all are not as bad.

But it just goes to show the line of work Hennigan performs on a daily basis for the Thunder as its director of college and international player personnel.

Hennigan can provide an abundance of tales from the road, where he has racked up a countless number of rewards points throughout the world.

On average, Hennigan is on the road anywhere from 17 to 23 nights a month in the standard basketball season, from October to March. He estimates he sees about a combined 100 college and international basketball games a year.

He’s been to all but three states – North Dakota, South Dakota and Montana – and about 14 countries, including Australia, France, Spain, Germany, Finland, Italy, Russia, Serbia, Croatia, Greece and Turkey.

Aside from English, Hennigan can speak only some Spanish, even after eight years of language classes.

But Hennigan, a Boston native, is a former player himself.

A pure jump shooter who seldom came across a shot he didn’t like, Hennigan became Emerson College’s all-time leading scorer and was the Great Northeast Athletic Conference Player of the Year for three straight seasons.

Coming out of Emerson, Hennigan said he had two job offers for broadcaster positions: one in Joplin, Missouri, and another in Fairbanks, Alaska. As much as he wanted to become a television personality, the Spurs came calling with an internship offer. He couldn’t resist. Five years later, Hennigan is in his first season with the Thunder.

The highs and lows of the job is kind of like a double-edge sword for Hennigan.

“Other than being able to watch basketball for a living, getting to see all these different places and experiencing these different cultures, I’ve probably learned more from my travels than from high school or college,” Hennigan said. “The best part is probably the travel. The worst part is probably the travel. Constantly on the go. All these flights, airlines, airports are crazy, early flights – just learning how to cope with the hustle and bustle and the craziness of travel in this day and age.”

So how does the scouting process begin?

It’s not so cut and dry.

“For us, square one is about defining our system and the process we want to use to guide us through this season,” Hennigan said. “It’s about identifying value. It’s about identifying players who fit what we’re trying to do on the court and off the court. You can’t say it’s word of mouth or you’re looking at lists or making phone calls. It’s all of that. And we like to establish a process that gravitates our focus toward players that fit our style, our culture, and kind of go from there. It’s tough to really pinpoint one particular starting point or philosophy.”

The Thunder’s scouting staff, as a whole, sees a couple hundred games per season, not including games they watch on television.

When Hennigan is overseas, he uses the various contacts he’s made – club officials, independent workers – to get around and get into games. When he’s touring the collegiate ranks, he typically makes return trips to the powerhouse conferences.

When it comes to tracking a certain number of players at once, Hennigan said he has two schools of thought:

One is a master list of thousands of players the organization is aware of; the second is a more truncated group of players that Hennigan and his staff study.

“If you’re a player you have to kind of earn your way onto that focused list, so to speak,” Hennigan said.

Hennigan later added, “We’re always looking for guys who are popping up on the radar and guys who are making an impact at the college level or international level. I think all of us do a pretty good job of keeping each other abreast of certain guys that are playing better, playing worse, keeping a good pulse on the landscape.”

Contact Chris Silva