A large section of the NBA world is obsessed with unearthing the next big star. While the NBA Draft occurs every year, the evaluation of that year’s prospects starts many years before. The high school basketball and AAU circuit is very closely followed by many fans, as is the NCAA college basketball season. The 2023 NBA Draft follows this same pattern, and this time, fans, executives, and experts alike are very optimistic about some of the top prospects for the upcoming draft.
Who does Scoot Henderson play for? Scoot Henderson currently plays for the NBA G League Ignite, a team consisting of a mix of young prospects and veteran players with the goal of developing players for the NBA. The G League Ignite participate in the NBA G League (the minor league of the NBA) and also play exhibition games against other professional teams. Henderson is currently on the second year of his 2-year deal with the G League Ignite; he elected to forego his senior year of high school as well as college when signing with Ignite. Henderson is projected to be a top-3 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.
Why is Scoot Henderson considered a top-3 projected pick in the 2023 NBA Draft?
Scoot Henderson was one of the top high school prospects in his class. He decided to reclassify, skipping his senior year, and decided not to go the NCAA route despite interest from the top college basketball programs. Instead, he decided to sign a 2-year deal with the NBA G League Ignite, and at 17 years old was reportedly the youngest player to sign a professional basketball contract.
Henderson’s basketball path so far has been special, because he is quite the special player. Like many of the young stars, Henderson boasts incredible athleticism, most notably his speed. While the point guard is 6’2, he has a 6’8 wingspan and is extremely quick in transition. He is also able to switch gears in the half-court, with a very impressive ability to stop and accelerate at any given moment. His speed enables him to be a menace offensively and defensively.
Henderson’s elite speed is also paired with great finishing at the rim. He goes for explosive dunks but can also finish deftly at the rim with both hands. Henderson also has a very smooth mid-range game, although his 3-point shot needs some tuning. As a point guard, he is also a playmaker and can be a facilitator if need be. Defensively, he is energetic at staying in front of his mark, and gets steals routinely.
Henderson’s experience in the G League has solidified his chances of being a top-3 pick for the 2023 NBA Draft. He may have been the consensus #1 overall pick if not for Victor Wembanyama, the 7 ‘4 French youngster with such an exceptional physical frame and basketball skill set that even someone as talented as Henderson is overlooked. Even so, teams with a need for a point guard for the future would be hard pressed to find a better option than Scoot Henderson.
What is the NBA G League Ignite?
The NBA G League Ignite is a professional team for the purpose of preparing draft prospects and young players for the NBA. The Ignite is a fairly new program, launching in 2020 and now entering its 3rd season. The Ignite previously participated in exhibition games only with other G League teams and other professional teams, but will fully participate in the G League starting with the 2022/23 season.
The Ignite are a professional team, meaning that its players sign a contract and receive a salary, foregoing their college basketball eligibility. This is a tempting option for the top high school prospects who would rather focus on basketball 100% to best further their chances to get to the NBA. The Ignite has boasted players like Jalen Green, Jonathan Kuminga, and Dyson Daniels, all 3 who were drafted in the top 10 in their respective drafts. The Ignite have produced 3 additional players who have been drafted, bringing the total to 6.
What other options do high school players have for pursuing professional basketball?
Up until 2006, the NBA allowed 18-year old players to join the league directly from high school, a route taken by prominent players such as LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Kevin Garnett. The NBA has outlawed this route, introducing new rules that players who wish to be drafted must be 1) at least 19 years old, and 2) at least one year removed from high school graduation.
This has pushed players to the NCAA college basketball route, which was already the conventional path for aspiring NBA players. However, the past decade or so has seen a rise of “one-and-done” players who play in the NCAA for one year only before declaring for the NBA Draft. This is seen as only complying with the system; while college basketball provides a great opportunity for development, many top prospects perceive themselves to be league-ready as soon as they are done with high school (and in quite a few instances they are right).
The NCAA route also did not allow players to be paid any money (they are making changes to that rule recently). Therefore, some top players looked for other routes. Some players left to play professional basketball elsewhere for a year, such as LaMelo Ball’s stint in Australia. Other players have joined the G League Ignite, while another similar developmental program has emerged with Overtime Elite. Overtime Elite is aimed at 16-20 year old prospects, offering them schooling along with a salary if they choose.
Scoot Henderson might be the next great point guard in this era of the NBA, filled with uber-athletic and insanely talented players. His 2 years of professional experience are not only an excellent way for Henderson to develop, but it also gives scouts advanced data on how Henderson can translate to the NBA. If not for a man named Victor Wembanyama, Henderson may well go #1 overall in the 2023 NBA Draft; he’s surely one of the most proven prospects in his class.