Bruce knew immediately he had a hot property on his hands when he saw Henderson in training following his arrival as manager last summer.
But he surely could not have expected that, barely 15 months on, the 20-year-old would be on the verge of an England call.
Henderson is being tipped to be included in Fabio Capello's squad for next month's friendly against France and asked if he could ever have imagined the call would come so quickly, Bruce said: "You would have to say honestly, no.
"But I have to tell you, when I walked through the door, more than any other player, he grabbed me - and he grabbed me within two training sessions. I asked, 'Who's that?'.
"To be fair, I had more conversations when I first got the job about Jordan than any other player. He must have done exceedingly well at Coventry, which we know he did.
"We had half the Championship wanting to take him on loan again, so I had heard a little bit about him.
"I had seen him and been recommended him once by my chief scout saying Sunderland had a hell of a player when he was at Coventry.
"But he grabbed me straight away in the first couple of training sessions and hasn't looked back. He has done fantastically well."
Henderson has forced his way into the international reckoning at Under-21 level, where he scored in the play-off victory over Romania last week to help ease his country into next summer's European Championship finals.
He has since found himself at the centre of speculation that the likes of he and Jack Wilshere could step up to senior level next month, and Bruce would not be surprised if that proved to be the case.
He said: "The London press seem to have got their teeth into something and usually that means they have got a little whisper from somewhere.
"It wouldn't surprise me. Jordan's performance for the Under-21s on Friday night was fantastic.
"We have watched him and seen him develop over the last 15 months and he is going to be a wonderful midfield player.
"It wouldn't surprise me if he was in the squad because he is a very, very talented young player.
"There are not many playing week in, week out in the Premier League like he is, and starring in it.
"He is a kid who, if he can keep his feet on the ground and keep learning, which I am sure he will do, he has got the world at his feet."
In the meantime, Henderson will turn out for his club at Blackburn on Monday evening when he will once again link up with a rejuvenated Steed Malbranque.
The 30-year-old Frenchman has excelled this season since being moved from the wing into a free role behind lone striker Darren Bent, and Bruce has been delighted with his contribution.
He said: "Mentally, he has tuned in to what we want to do and he has worked extremely hard.
"It all boils down to Steed, really. I am not one for blowing my own trumpet and saying, 'We have done this'. Steed himself has done it.
"The thing we need from Steed is, I don't think he has scored in two years, and that's what we need at the moment.
"It's okay playing the system we are playing, but we need then to start chipping in a few goals from [Lee] Cattermole and Henderson and Malbranque and [Danny] Welbeck and [Ahmed] Elmohamady.
"They are all capable of scoring, so we need that to happen."