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Ohio State women’s basketball player preview: Kaia Henderson

Looking at a standout freshman from Upstate New York

Kaia Henderson (11), sits on the bench with Karla Vres, Emma Shumate and Mya Perry in Ohio State’s exhibition win against Notre Dame College, Monday, Oct. 31, 2022.
Ohio State athletics

On Monday, the Ohio State Buckeyes continued preparation for their 2022-23 season. It gave fans and media alike the first chance to see the Scarlet & Gray compete. Part of the team didn’t see many minutes, including two freshmen guards. An out-of-state shooter was part of that duo, and they’re next in a series previewing everyone on the roster.

Kaia Henderson joins the Buckeyes from Upstate New York, and brings an impressive resume to Ohio. What’s Henderson’s outlook, and how can she get time on the court?

Name: Kaia Henderson
Position: Guard
Class: Freshman
High School: New Hartford High School (Utica, New York)

Last Season

Like freshman teammate forward Cotie McMahon, Henderson opted to leave high school early. Instead of finishing a high school career, Henderson enrolled in Ohio State and joined the team in Jan. 2022.

Before Henderson left New Hartford High School, she was fourth in career scoring in New York’s Section III athletics association with 2,284 points. With only five games left, Henderson was 84 points behind second place on that list, WNBA Champion and former MVP from the Seattle Storm, Breanna Stewart, and 161 off the overall record.

It was a record bound to be broken, with Henderson scoring 55 points just 20 days earlier. However, after suffering a hand injury on Dec. 23, 2021, Henderson left school and headed southwest to Columbus to begin her NCAA career.

What to Expect

As evidenced from scoring numbers above, Henderson is an offensive powerhouse. Standing at 5-foot-6, Henderson isn’t afraid to attack the basket or shoot from deep. Watching highlights of Henderson shows a highly motivated player, who her own high school coach said outworks anybody, and possesses strong mental and physical toughness.

Monday’s exhibition didn’t give a long look at Henderson. Of all 14 rostered players who made it onto the court, Henderson played the least, logging only 2:49. Her desire to play was evident, alongside support from her teammates. In the fourth quarter, as an assistant coach was calling for someone to prepare to enter the game, Henderson half jumped up, appearing to think it was her being called in. Unfortunately for Henderson it wasn't, but when she got in she made the best of her time.

Henderson had a three and two point attempt, hitting the latter. When taking the three point shot, fellow guard Emma Shumate stood up to celebrate a potential long ball from the freshman, but the ball bounced off the rim for a miss. Henderson added a rebound to her two points in a game that was firmly over, ending 118-33.


The exhibition doesn’t show much of the freshman, but playing behind a guard group that includes Jacy Sheldon, Taylor Mikesell and Rikki Harris is already going to be an uphill climb. If that work ethic from New Hartford is evident in practices, and Henderson makes the best of the limited opportunities, she could show what she has for the post-Mikesell and Sheldon future.

At the end of the season, if the minutes aren’t there and Henderson can't break through, her motivation makes her a good candidate for a potential transfer portal move. In the same interview from Henderson’s coach, the portal is mentioned specifically as an option that made committing to a team so quickly easier to do.

Read into that what you will.


Henderson (11), showing off the skills that made her close to breaking New York Section III’s scoring record. They come from Henderson’s full final high school season.

Miss any player previews? Here’s the list so far: