Kaia Henderson recently began her freshman year at New Hartford.
Her life took an unexpected turn in early October following an encounter with the Syracuse women’s basketball team.
“The coach gave us a call,” Henderson recalled. “My dad and I were in the car about to go to the movies and we talked for awhile.”
Henderson would come to find out the Orange were offering her a full athletic scholarship.
“I was ecstatic,” she said. “After the call ended, I was screaming. It was crazy.”
Other schools have come to the table since then, including Virginia Tech and Providence. Maryland and Villanova have also expressed interest.
“It’s a lot right now,” she said. “I try to keep it organized and to focus on basketball.”
Henderson first joined the Spartans’ varsity team as a seventh grader, something head coach Mike Callan has rarely seen during his 18-year run.
“(Having a) seventh grader is unheard of,” Callan said. “She deserved it. She can create an offense all by herself, which is very hard to do at the high school level. You don’t usually see it, but she can go and create what she wants.”
Her rise has created major excitement around the team.
“There’s going to be a lot of people coming,” Callan said. “Freshman just don’t get four letters of intent before their first game.”
Henderson scored a game-high 29 points in New Hartford’s season opening 66-52 victory over Oswego. The Spartans face Henninger on Wednesday night in their season opener.