NCAAW: key WNBA prospect Destanni Henderson for South Carolina

The South Carolina Gamecocks (12-1) are perhaps the best team in college girls’ basketball, and they are certainly one of the strongest programs in the country. Head coach Dawn Staley has made South Carolina a national superpower, regularly landing some of basketball’s top rookies, such as center Aliyah Boston and sharpshooter Zia Cooke.

While Boston and Cooke, both juniors, will certainly be the subject of extensive discussion as WNBA prospects ahead of the 2023 WNBA Draft, it’s currently the turn of senior point guard Destanni Henderson, and she has to strong arguments to write for the league next spring.

Henderson – or “Henny,” as she is affectionately known among Gamecocks loyalists – was incorporated into the starting line-up from South Carolina upon Tyasha Harris graduation in 2020, and the team earned a 38-6 combined since then. The 5-foot-7 product from Fort Myers, Fla. Has made a name for himself as one of the nation’s most dynamic playmakers; that, coupled with her team’s undeniable success, makes her a must-see WNBA prospect until 2022.

Honors and statistics

The nation’s No.6 rookie – and No.1 point guard – in 2018, Henderson enjoyed immediate success as Gamecock, starting nine games and winning SEC All-Freshman honors in his debut season. She was subsequently named to the SEC All-Star teams in both sophomore and junior, with the latter honor coming as a full-time starter; Henderson averaged 12.2 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game in 2020-21.

Prior to the 2021-2022 season, Henderson was named on the preseason watchlists for the Naismith Trophy and the Wooden Award, as well as the preseason watchlist for the Nancy Lieberman Award, which is awarded to the best leader in the country. Henderson was also named to the 2021-22 North American second-team preseason by USA today.

Internationally, Henderson has been with USA Basketball since 2015, when she competed in trials for the United States U16 National Team. She won a bronze medal with the United States team at the FIBA ​​World Under-17 Championship in 2016 and in 2021, she won gold as part of an American team in charge of the FIBA Women’s AmeriCup.

How she helps the Gamecocks

Henderson’s ability to push the basketball and attack the rim adds an important dimension to South Carolina’s offense.
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

After succeeding a popular and successful point guard at Harris, many eyes have turned to Henderson as South Carolina’s “X-factor”, especially as the Gamecocks enter the New Year as the one of the favorites to compete for the 2022 national championship. Boston may be the best player on the team, but her stability, in a way, amplifies the importance of a goalie like Henderson: when she plays well , South Carolina is nearly impossible to beat.

Henderson’s most obvious strength is her speed with basketball, and this is fully reflected in how she is used in the South Carolina offense. As a junior, 39.2% of Henderson’s offensive possessions have transitioned (Synergy Sports) – a critical figure for a Gamecocks team that often faces conservative and paint-related defenses attempting to neutralize his waist when she can’t get out and Run.

Needless to say, getting out and running isn’t a problem for Henderson. Staley praised his point guard’s efforts in a recent South Carolina victory over Stanford – a game in which Henderson recorded 17 points, seven assists and seven steals – citing his ability to “reignite” the offense. ‘team and adding that she brings a “different dimension” to the Gamecocks with her speed and defense at the point of attack.

While Henderson is good at a few highlighted reel plays every time she takes the field thanks to her fast hands and even faster feet, she is far from a one-dimensional player. His jumpshooting has quietly improved over the years, and as a senior, his jumpshot has been both versatile and effective, ranking in the 93rd percentile in scoring efficiency on both non-dribbling jumpers. and catch and shoot (Synergy Sports). Keeping those shots down will be key for Henderson as a defense plan to keep her out of the paint, and a well-balanced scoring package will certainly make her more appealing to WNBA coaches and general managers looking for. ‘a keeper in the next project of the year.

Watch her play

The SEC season is officially underway, which means there is no shortage of big games on the South Carolina schedule. The Gamecocks’ first televised game of 2022 will be on Jan.9 against Rhyne Howard and the Kentucky Wildcats (ESPN), and they will later have several more against Mississippi State (Feb.6; ESPN2), Kentucky (Feb. 10; ESPN) and Georgia (February 13; ESPN2).

South Carolina will also get another chance against the UConn Huskies, which the Gamecocks handily beat in November, January 27 (ESPN). This will be a great opportunity for Henderson to show off his skills against his co-guard and WNBA prospect Evina Westbrook.

All statistics and team records for the 2021-22 season are up to date through December 31, 2021.

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