A year that included winning a national championship and being drafted by the WNBA ended with a historic homecoming for Destanni Henderson.
Henderson, who won three consecutive state championships at Fort Myers High School, had her No. 3 jersey retired at her alma mater on Wednesday night.
The ceremony was held during halftime of a Fort Myers girls basketball game. The packed gym, which included Henderson’s family, friends and former teammates, celebrated boisterously when Henderson walked onto the court she dominated for four years.
“This is something that I’m always going to remember the rest of my life, something that’s going to continue to motivate me,” Henderson told the crowd.
Henderson played under Dawn Staley at South Carolina for four seasons, culminating in a win in the the 2022 NCAA Women’s Basketball National Championship game against UConn. Henderson scored a career-high 26 points to help steer her team to victory.
Soon after, Henderson was selected by the Indiana Fever in the second round of the 2022 WNBA Draft.
“It all just happened so fast,” she said. “It was hard for me to really like enjoy each moment because it was literally right after each other. But the experience was really fun. I wouldn’t change it for the world. I feel like, since then, I grew a lot.”
Henderson is taking lessons from her rookie year with the Fever into the offseason as she trains “to get better at every little thing.”
“To start the new season better than I did, I feel like, is one of the main goals,” she said. “Just to always be consistent as I keep elevating.”
Henderson has showcased the ability to consistently improve throughout her career, which all began at Fort Myers.
Henderson helped the Green Wave win state championships from 2016-18 and was a three-time The News-Press Basketball Player of the Year. As a senior, she was named a McDonald’s All-American, the first Lee County female basketball player to receive the honor, and was also the 2018 Florida Gatorade Player of the Year.
Returning to the building brought back memories of her close friendships with her teammates.
“They were really like family, so coming here was like fun every day, literally,” Henderson said.
Her favorite high school achievement was the 2018 state title, which came in her senior season to complete the “three-peat” under head coach Chad Terrell.
“It’s special to see anybody or be a part of anybody getting their jersey retired at any level, so it’s special for Destanni, for our program, for our school, for our community,” Terrell said.
The Fort Myers girls basketball team and their opponent, North Port, stayed in the gym to watch the halftime ceremony.
At one point, Henderson, recording a selfie video on her phone, ran over to the Greenies to include them in her moment.
“I hope it’s inspiring to see somebody that works hard, comes from the same community they come from to reach the highest level of their profession, of their sport,” Terrell said. “I hope it’s inspiring and it inspires them to work hard and try to get to the same point.”
The rarity of Wednesday night’s honor was not lost on Henderson. In a year full of remarkable achievements, this one hit close to home.
“It’s just something that I always thought about – on any level,” Henderson said. “Just what it would feel like, just having the opportunity. For the school to do that for me today just really means a lot honestly. It just lets me know all the hard work I put in and – I really don’t give myself credit, and it’s like all the accolades are (listed) underneath the jersey. I just feel like them honoring me in this way really makes me feel good.”