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Scoot Henderson Feels Prepared for NBA, Wants to Play with Lillard

Portland’s lottery selection feels good about finally making the league.

NBA: NBA Draft Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

When the Portland Trail Blazers selected Scoot Henderson third overall in the 2023 NBA Draft, they got a high-profile, high-octane player with boundless confidence. If Henderson’s play on the court didn’t reflect that assessment, his bold declarations to NBA media certainly would. During the draft, Henderson was interviewed by assembled media, asked about his reflections on the draft process, his feelings about Portland, and whether he thought he and incumbent point guard Damian Lillard could coexist on the same roster.

Here’s the full transcript of Henderson’s comments immediately after being drafted.

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Scoot Henderson

Q. What are the emotions going through your mind right now?

SCOOT HENDERSON: I’m just happy. It’s finally here. I’m blessed. My family was there with me. To go to Portland is kind of going full circle. My guy Pooh (Jeter) there, texted Dame not too long ago. So it’s up. It’s up when I get there.

Q. There was so much speculation about what was going to happen at 2 and 3 and even about those picks possibly being moved. How much attention did you pay to all that, and how much are you curious about whether this is going to stick? Have you received any assurances that you’re sticking in Portland?

SCOOT HENDERSON: Yeah, I didn’t really pay too much attention to that. I paid attention to what mattered and that was the work that went into being here to this day.

If they do decide to trade or do whatever with the pick, man, I’m just going to continue to work, control what I can.

Q. In recent years unconventional paths other than college have been used by top prospects. Looking back, do you feel like those two years definitely prepared you for the next level?

SCOOT HENDERSON: Man, for sure. I’m the most prepared player in the draft. That’s what I say. The fact that I went there for two years just taught me so much. On the court, as well, but a lot of things off the court. I learned how to be a pro off the court. Just so much time off and just trying to find what to do. I found the hobbies that I like to do.

Ignite definitely showed me a lot of things that I wouldn’t get anywhere else. I’m blessed that I did the two years that I did, and I grew so much from it.

Q. What was your reaction not going 2? Were you surprised by it? What did you think?

SCOOT HENDERSON: No, not at all. I’m glad to see Brandon go there. I’m pretty sure it’s a great fit for him. That’s how I move. I move with love. I’m not mad that I didn’t go 2 or I didn’t go 1. I’m blessed to go 3, and to be here with my family with me.

Q. You said you’re the most prepared player. Why do you think playing in the G League was such good preparation?

SCOOT HENDERSON: We play against pros every night and guys that killed college, guys that killed overseas, guys that are going up and down in the league, coming down just to play against us, to show that they can dominate draft picks or whatever the case may be. That’s why I always say prepared.

We learned a lot of things at the beginning of the season that has nothing to do with skill set, things that go on behind closed doors of basketball, the business of it. Just learned how to be a pro, like I said, on the court and off the court.

So it was special. It was a special two years.

Q. There’s still a lot of wonder if Damian Lillard is going to be in Portland. Are you hoping you get to play with him?

SCOOT HENDERSON: Yeah, I’m hoping to get to play with Dame, for sure. Special talent, special guard. One of my favorites to watch, especially film-wise. Just to pick out how he moves off the court, as well. Yeah, it would be cool to play with him.

Q. Scoot, I wanted to see what it’s like to be able to represent your state on the stage like this, finally being able to be in this moment?

SCOOT HENDERSON: I’m just one of the few in the league right now, so I’m blessed to be a part of that group. I’m blessed to be a part of people from Marietta striving. It’s amazing to represent. It’s amazing to represent my family and especially the city, my gym, all that. It’s great.

Q. Of course you went the unconventional route. You had to leave home to do it. When you look back on the entire process, what are you most proud of?

SCOOT HENDERSON: I’m proud of the growth I’ve had and how much I’ve grown as a person off the court. I wasn’t really talkative and I didn’t really speak much, but the second year I grew into a loud person and a leader that needed to come out.

Playing the guard position, going into next year, I know I will have to be vocal, especially at the point guard. Just growing that much at that rate, it was great to me. I always look back to that.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports