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It has been undisputed for a while now that Scoota Henderson is one of the best point guards in the high school recruiting class of 2022. The biggest question on that end, to this point, has been whether he belongs in the No. 1 spot at his position.

Now, a more pressing question — especially for college coaches — is not where he fits in the 2022 class, but if he’ll actually leave high school a year earlier than expected.

Henderson — a 6-foot-3 playmaker from the Atlanta area — is now the subject of recruiting rumblings that he could reclassify to 2021 and play college basketball next season. If he were to make such a move, he’d immediately become one of the top available prospects — at any position — this offseason. And Kentucky, which is still searching for point guard help for next season, has long been in the picture.

247Sports analyst Travis Branham scouted Henderson at an early spring AAU event last weekend and came away just as impressed as he has been on previous viewings.

Branham saw Henderson play three times over the course of the weekend. In the first game, the five-star prospect wasn’t quite as aggressive as he had been during the high school season. Then he flipped on the switch for games two and three.

“He ramped it up,” Branham said. “The intensity was there, and he was just as explosive as they come. His first step is just elite. Very, very few — if anyone — can keep him in front of them at the high school level. The amount of pressure he’s able to apply to the defense off the bounce is just incredible. He’s just so explosive, both with that first step and around the rim.”

Henderson also showed off improvements as a shooter, an aspect of his game that he says he’s paid special attention to over the course of the high school season. The advances in his shot-making ability from mid-range and beyond the three-point line have been noticeable.

As good as Henderson is offensively, he has the potential to be even better on the other end of the court.

“When he’s locked in and engaged, his two-way impact is elite,” Branham said. “On defense, with his physical tools and his athleticism — he has the ability to be the best on-ball defender in the country. And he’s shown that already.”

Branham pointed back to a game during the high school season where Henderson “absolutely shut down” — in the analyst’s words — Alabama commitment JD Davison, the No. 1 point guard in the 2021 class, according to the 247Sports composite rankings.

“It just shows what he’s capable of,” he said.

Might Henderson soon be challenging Davison for that No. 1 point guard designation in the 2021 class? Right now, Henderson is the No. 14 prospect and No. 2 point guard in 247Sports’ in-house rankings for the 2022 class, though he’s expected to rise when that list is updated.

“In my opinion, he is that No. 1 point guard prospect in the 2022 class,” Branham said. “There have been rumblings of him jumping to 2021. And if he did that, I think he’d be the No. 1 point guard in ’21 as well.”

Kentucky (and 2021) an option?

Henderson has been on Kentucky’s recruiting radar for well over a year, and he has been mentioning the Wildcats prominently in interviews for the past several months. Arkansas, Auburn, Kansas and Memphis are some other programs thought to be near the top of his list heading into the spring.

UK already has highly touted point guard Nolan Hickman coming in for next season, but the Cats lost Devin Askew to the transfer portal last week and are still waiting to see what Davion Mintz will do. Even if Mintz returns, it’s clear that John Calipari would like to add another player who could shoulder some of the load at the point guard spot.

The most likely source for such an addition seems to be the NCAA transfer portal, with a veteran playmaker — like Minnesota’s Marcus Carr — perhaps a better fit to go with Hickman than another freshman would be. But UK certainly wouldn’t look past the chance to add a point guard of Henderson’s caliber, and Wildcats assistant coach Bruiser Flint has been handling the primary recruiting duties in that pursuit.

Branham acknowledged that a Henderson reclass to 2021 is “a possibility,” noting that there have been legitimate talks behind the scenes about such a scenario. A couple of caveats:

1) A decision isn’t expected anytime soon. “I do think he kind of wants to take his time with it,” Branham said, adding that he’s unsure how open Henderson really is to such a move.

2) If he does reclassify, Henderson would still have two seasons to go before he could jump to the NBA Draft (barring an unforeseen change in the league’s age eligibility rules). The young playmaker only turned 17 years old in February, and he would be ineligible for the 2022 NBA Draft under the league’s current rules. So, even if he reclassifies to 2021, he won’t be allowed to enter the draft until 2023.

And one more important angle to temper UK fans’ hopes of landing this possibly transcendent talent: Auburn looms as the favorite.

“I think they’re the clear-cut leader, plain and simple,” said Branham, who has already logged a Crystal Ball pick in favor of the Tigers.

With Henderson not expected to make any big decisions in the near future, maybe Kentucky still has time to make up some ground. But this seems like one recruitment that — despite continued mention of UK as a top-tier option — ultimately won’t go the Wildcats’ way. And yet another wrinkle: the idea of a potential jump to the G League has been added to the conversation in recent weeks.

“So we’ll see what happens with Scoot,” Branham said. “There are still a lot of options out there.”

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