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Senior center Darien Nelson-Henry left Friday's game due to an ankle injury suffered in practice on Monday. If he's unable to go against Brown on Saturday, the Red and Blue will have their work cut out for them guarding two-time Ivy League Defensive Player of the Year Cedric Kuakumensah.

Credit: Katie Zhao , Katie Zhao, Katie Zhao

There’s no place like home.

In the midst of a fantastic start to their season, Penn basketball will travel to Seattle for a matchup with Washington this weekend.

For senior center and captain Darien Nelson-Henry, the matchup with the Huskies (1-0) will be more than another regular season game for the Quakers (3-0). It’s a chance to return home.

The Kirkland, Wash., native grew up just 20 minutes outside the Huskies’ campus. The basketball environment of the Pacific Northwest was certainly different than the more established hubs of basketball talent throughout the country.

“In Los Angeles, [basketball] is big, and the whole East Coast from New Jersey to Boston is crazy, especially with those New England prep schools,” Nelson-Henry said.

“It’s a field house out there. Washington definitely doesn’t compare to that in quantity but quality-wise, and the general atmosphere, it’s great.”

Despite its smaller size, Washington basketball hasn’t lack in production of top-tier NBA talent. Jamal Crawford, Isaiah Thomas and Nate Robinson all call the Seattle area home. If anything, its lack of recognition may make the basketball scene in the Pacific Northwest even stronger.

“Jamal Crawford has his pro-am there, and people from Washington love returning there to play,” Nelson-Henry said. “It’s a tight-knit community out there even though it is not as expansive. But it’s still very prestigious. It’s growing.”

The game at Alaska Airlines Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion will not be Nelson-Henry’s first on that court. And besides being familiar with the venue, he expects the Quakers to have quite the supporting section by tip-off time on Saturday.

“I played in Hec Edmundson Pavilion in high school, and it was actually one of my better games I’ve played. So hopefully I can return and produce the same type of numbers. Other than that, it will just be great going home and having my family there to support me and a lot of friends,” he said.

“Honestly it may feel like more of a home game because I have like 100-plus people coming out. Might be more Quakers than Huskies out there.”

This trip to Seattle was actually his idea. Every season the Quakers travel somewhere of the seniors’ choice. For Nelson-Henry, the decision was easy.

“The coaches asked me where I wanted to go for our senior trip. Last year we went to Iowa, and the year before we went to UCLA, and UW is only 20 minutes from my house, so why not? There’s something about playing on the home turf that just feels good.”

There will be more than just basketball on this trip out west. For Nelson-Henry, it’s an exciting opportunity to show off his hometown, a place most of his teammates probably have never had the chance to visit.

“We actually have a good amount of time there which is awesome. My dad will be cooking up some salmon and some good Northwestern cuisine. After we get the win against Washington ... hopefully ... we will be going out with my family and seeing all the touristy parts of Washington and getting to show the guys the territory that made me who I am.”

Despite the expected fun, Nelson-Henry is still focused on the purpose of the trip: basketball. The Huskies, also currently undefeated, are an entirely different caliber than the Quakers’ opponents so far this season. Off to their best start in years, the Red and Blue are ready for the challenge.

“When I go home I want to put on the best performance possible for my family and friends. I’m just excited for the chance to go 4-0 and get a win against a Pac-12 team that is very prestigious and is on the top-25 bubble most seasons. If we can pull that off then it will say a lot about how we have progressed this season, and I’m hoping we can displayed that this Saturday.”

Maybe a little home cooking will have Nelson-Henry and the rest of the Quakers playing at a high level on Saturday.

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