Henderson outduels Wembanyama as presumed top picks square off
The presumed top two picks for next year’s NBA Draft squared off in a preseason matchup that saw guard Scoot Henderson get the best of center Victor Wembanyama.
The G League Ignite downed the Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans 92, 122-115, Tuesday, Oct. 4 from The Dollar Loan Center.
“Basketball is a beautiful game,” head coach Jason Hart said. “But at the end of the day, some players just come along [that] are special [...] He’s 7’3, we haven’t seen it so there really isn’t anything to compare it to.”
Both Henderson and Wembanyama flashed superstar of tomorrow capabilities on both ends of the floor with superstars of today sitting courtside. Phoenix Suns guards Chris Paul and Devin Booker were among those in attendance along with reigning WNBA Champs and gold medalists A’ja Wilson and Chelsea Gray.
“I’m not the easiest guy to talk to after a loss,” Wembanyama said. “I noticed some Suns players next to our bench but I didn’t notice anyone else.”
Henderson came out and hit the first basket of the game on a pullup jumper in the lane. That was the start of a nine point first quarter for the player that originally would be entering his senior year in high school this fall.
He really got it going in the second quarter, scoring another nine points for an 18-point first half.
In the midst of a 10-5 run that forced a timeout from the Metropolitans 92 with the G League Ignite now up 11, the expected No. 2 pick hit another running pullup mid-range jumper to cap it. He followed it up with some words toward the visiting bench.
“I just played basketball on [the] stage,” Henderson said. “That’s what I took away from this night. The Henderson city showed out and they came out to support their Ignite team.”
The G League squad was able to build a lead as large as 22 points in that second quarter. Fans were even treated to a highlight reel euro-step from Henderson as he zipped around Wembanyama for the reverse finish.
Henderson finished with 28 points on 11-of-21 shooting including two made three-pointers.His performance rivaled a 37-point performance from Wembanyama on 11-of-20 shooting. Henderson also led all Ignite players with nine assists versus just one turnover.
In fact, that turnover came with 2:16 left in regulation.
“Scoot’s pretty good,” Hart said. “I mean, he’s only 18 years old too. Victor is really good but Scoot is pretty good and the difference with Scoot is he’s learning how to control tempo, how to control flow. He’s learning when and when not to, he’s learning how to conserve energy so he has way more responsibility.”
Henderson along with veteran guard John Jenkins helped fight off a feverous comeback from Boulogne-Levallois late in the game. Jenkins scored 21 points powered by five trey balls.
Both, Henderson and Jenkins, were the only two with 20 or more for the G League Ignite while three others scored in double figures.
“As much as we hated it in the moment,” Jenkins said. “I think for these young guys especially – I’ve been in a couple of those wars myself but it’s a great time to grow. And we still have a month before we play our first real game.”
Speculated No. 1 overall pick, Wembanyama, had a monster night on the other end for the Mets 92. While picking up seven first quarter points, he also sent a Henderson layup attempt back.
Wembanyama racked up five blocks on the night including another one on Henderson in the fourth quarter on a dunk attempt.
“I didn’t really think about it too much,” Henderson said. “I was there to win. They talk [but] I don’t really pay attention to all of that. I try to stay off of social media as much as I can when it comes to trying to compare and contrast players. You know, [No.] 1 and 2, I don’t really feed into that.”
On the offensive end, seven of the 11 made field goals from the 7’3 shooter came from beyond-the-arc with three falling in the third quarter. Boulogne-Levallois won the third quarter by 16 points and that would serve as the only quarter won by the road team.
Wembanyama was fouled on two of his three-point attempts during the course of the game, even getting one to go despite the harm. One of which was ruled a flagrant-one foul on the G League’s Leonard Miller.
“Our team really needed players to step up because we were down 22 I think,” he said. “Coming back from such a lead is a tough task so you have to take responsibility and three is more than two.”
The effort from the Mets 92 netted the team its first lead since the first quarter after overtaking the Ignite, 95-93, in the fourth quarter.
With 26 seconds left in regulation, it appeared that Wembanyama fouled out while reaching in on a driving Henderson. After review, the foul was rescinded before the final 26 seconds were played out.
Both teams will run it back Thursday, Oct. 6 from The Dollar Loan Center in the final preseason tune up for the G League Ignite.
Tip-off is scheduled for noon.