He was Georgia’s consensus No. 1 prospect among juniors and the No. 12 player nationally, according to 247Sports. He averaged 24.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game in 2021 and was the AJC’s Class 6A player of the year.
Henderson, who is 6-foot-2 and has been compared to Russell Westbrook, spent two years with the G League Ignite after high school.
Last season with the Ignite, he averaged 17.6 points and team-high 6.5 assists. He also brings defense — something the Blazers sorely needed.
Asked what Portland is getting, Henderson said: “Somebody that’s going to come in and attack the basket every single time, put pressure on the defense and play both sides of the floor. And a winner.”
The selection complicates things a bit for the Blazers, who already have an All-Star guard in Damian Lillard.
Known for his tenacity on the court, Henderson could be packaged in a trade if Portland pursues a high-profile veteran to join Lillard. Or, he could replace Lillard if the Blazers decided to rebuild. He could even pair with Lillard in Portland’s backcourt.
“I’m young but I’ve got a mature mindset, and that’s to work and that’s to come in and work and make a real impact, not just on the basketball side but in the community,” Henderson said after his name was announced.
Henderson’s full name is Sterling Jewell Henderson. He earned the nickname Scoot when he was a toddler and used to scoot around on the floor. He’s from a basketball family, too. Younger sister, Crystal “Moochie” Henderson, is headed to Georgia State.
The Blazers missed the playoffs this season for the second straight year, finishing 33-49 and in 13th in the Western Conference. That was despite the best efforts of Lillard, who averaged a career-high 32.2 points a game, third-best in the league. But in the end, Portland was plagued by inopportune injuries and inconsistent play.
The season wasn’t without some high points — namely Lillard’s 71-point game. He set the franchise and career record in a late February game against the Houston Rockets. He also finished the game with 13 3-pointers.