The trend of top high school basketball prospects accelerating their path to financial profit took another evolution on Friday, when five-star prospect Scoota Henderson announced he is joining the G League Ignite program. Henderson is reclassifying from the 2022 class to the 2021 class, but he still won't be eligible for the NBA Draft until he turns 19 in 2023, according to 247Sports.
"I humbly accept the opportunity to join the G League Ignite team, becoming the youngest professional player in the history of American basketball," Henderson said in an announcement video. The Marietta, Georgia, native is a 6-foot-3 registering as the No. 9 overall player in the 247Sports Composite following his Friday commitment.
Henderson's decision to bypass his final season of high school basketball and a potential college stint at Auburn means he is on track to be the first prospect who spends two seasons in the G League program. He is joining fellow 2021 prospects Jaden Hardy, Michael Foster and Fanbo Zeng as the player committed to Ignite for the upcoming season. Henderson's announcement came the same day that the upstart Overtime Elite high school program made a splash by signing Class of 2023 five-star prospects Matt and Ryan Bewley of Orlando, Florida.
Collectively, the developments show how the competition for top young talent is increasing at an even earlier stage of the recruitment process. With the NCAA still stumbling through the rollout of new rules to allow athletes to profit off their name, image and likeness, college basketball programs can't yet compete with lucrative financial offers of G League Ignite and Overtime Elite.
Henderson's announcement also showed that G League Ignite could end up in competition with Overtime Elite for talent. If the G League program is willing to accept players who still have multiple years of development on the horizon before they are draft-eligible, it puts them in the same talent market as the Overtime Elite program, which is offering six-figure salaries and myriad other benefits to players who are still in high school.