Dark Horse Spotlight

2023 5’9 PG Layla Henderson

After just one season of varsity basketball, one thing about Layla Henderson’s standing as a college prospect is clear: there’s a lot to be excited about.

2023 5’9 PG Layla Henderson

2023 5’9 PG Layla Henderson

When evaluating Henderson, her athleticism stands out immediately as elite, and it played a significant role in helping her to provide an instant impact to Naperville North’s experienced varsity team as only a freshman. Her lightning-quick speed is undeniable, whether on display in transition (where she regularly leaves defenders in the dust as she attacks the rim coast-to-coast after securing a steal or rebound) or in the half-court (where she trips up defenders with quick, decisive cuts and dribble moves).

As a player, though, Henderson’s skill set extends well beyond athleticism alone. In fact, her skills trainer – M14 Hoops’ Bobby Catchings – believes that she’s just scratching the surface of her on-court potential. “Layla is the perfect example of what happens when talent meets hard work. Her growing confidence is going to make her a headache for opposing teams this upcoming season”.

Indeed, Henderson’s impact was felt all over the court during her freshman season, as she filled a number of roles for her team in pursuit of wins. She’s a scorer when her teammates need her to score, with a quick and smooth perimeter jumper and soft touch when finishing at high speeds around the rim. She’s a facilitator when the defense provides her teammates with better scoring opportunities than her own, and she’s excellent at both feeding the post and identifying open shooters when attacking the rim.

Regardless of the game, opponent, or situation, though, Layla is a lockdown defender and hustle rebounder who refuses to be outworked by her competition.

Yes, Layla is a winner on the basketball court, and she’s willing to fill any role necessary to put her team in position to be victorious. This winning attitude is also clear in the classroom, where Layla has posted a perfect GPA through the first two semesters of her high school career. Though she is at the very early stages of her recruitment, the combination of Layla’s winning mentality, athletic upside, and academic performance has already captured the attention of several scholarship-level coaches around the country. She’s just getting started, and wise coaches who understand her potential are beginning to track her progress now.

Now, allow us to introduce you to Layla in her own words:

  1. As you think ahead toward your ideal college situation, what factors are most important to you in picking a school? What are you looking for in a school and basketball program?
    When picking a school, some of the most important factors will be location and academics. My academics are very important to me and going to a competitive school where I will constantly be pushed to be my best will be very beneficial. In terms of basketball, having a good relationship with the coaching staff is very important. I really want to be in a place where I feel that I can communicate my concerns and talk to them about anything, basketball-related or not. Lastly, I would like to play at a school where I can help my team with certain elements of my game and vice-versa. I want to be able to learn from my teammates how to be a better basketball player and person.
  2. From your perspective, what are your greatest on-court strengths that you will bring to your future college program?
    I believe that some of my greatest strengths are my ball handling, shooting from beyond the arc, on and off ball defense as well as having a quick first step. My defense is something that I take pride in. I am the type of defender that will be active on my player and if one of my teammates gets beat, I’ll be ready to step up and take on their player, as well. I am also an unselfish player. While scoring is still important, I’m very focused on my assists and my ability to get other teammates open when I might not necessarily be open myself. I feel that it is one of my greatest skills due to the fact that it can help the team in many different ways.
  3. During this coronavirus-inflicted “shelter-in-place”, which aspects of your game are you working to improve? And how are you being creative with your workout routine?
    I’ve been working on my ball handling as well as shooting a lot during shelter-in-place. I have also been working on improving my endurance by running and doing cardio exercises.  Most of my workouts are focused around strengthening areas that are easily injured by players. This includes lots of knee and ankle exercises.
  4. If we asked your teammates what their favorite part about playing alongside you was, what would they say?
    They would say that I’m the type of player who plays for others, meaning that the team aspect of the game is very important to me and I want others to do great, as well. I will work my hardest at practice and during games so that my teammates will work their hardest. I also try to make the game fun and do not take myself too seriously!
  5. During this time in which college coaches cannot travel to watch you play live, what’s one thing you’d like for those coaches to know about you?
    I would like them to know that I am taking this time to add dimension to my game by adding new skills and working harder to improve my strengths even more. I would also like them to know I am looking forward to playing in front of coaches during the months to come!

Interested in learning more about Layla?

Additional film, academic information, and other recruiting updates are available to college coaches upon request. Email bruggles@darkhorserecruits.com to learn more.