LANSING – LaDontae Henton started on varsity as a freshman at Lansing Eastern last season and discovered new challenges.
"The play is different than in middle school, they're much stronger. But it was fun. We had an alright season, the best we've had in a couple of years."
But obstacles weren't the only thing he discovered; he found success as well.
"I'm in the record books (at Eastern) for the most rebounds in a season, like 312," he says.
Outside of the school walls, Henton participates with the AAU's Michigan Mustangs – both the 16- and the 17-and-under teams. His coach for the Mustangs is Rob Watts, who pushes the young phenom to improve.
"One of the things he needs to work on is his – he's young, so his decision making," Watts said after his 17U Mustangs won the Motown Showdown AAU Tournament in Lansing last weekend.
"The thing about him – I see improvement every day … or every time he steps on the floor, I should say," Watts continues. "He's such a quick study that he's picking up things and he's applying them the very next time hat he's on the floor.
"I've asked him to improve his ball handling, he's done that. I've asked him to come in and get shots up, he improves his shooting, he has improved his shooting and he can get better."
What does Henton see as the strengths to his game?
"My rebounding and my ability to go to the basket," he says. "I'm like a slasher, but in the high school season I play more of the 4 and 5 because I was the biggest player on the team."
And at 6-foot-6, 215-pounds Henton is likely not finished growing, either.
"The doctor says my growth plates look pretty good. I should be like 6-8."
With such success so early, Henton is already hearing from nationally prominent college programs.
Henton has spoken to coach Tom Izzo a few times, so what's his take on the fiery head man for the Spartans?
"If you mess up, he get in your head," Henton says. "He's nice though … he's a cool guy."
As a Lansing native, it's natural to ask if he's a Michigan State fan.
"Oh yeah, ever since I was a kid," he says. He watched the Spartans closely this season. "They were alright. I think they should have done better than the Sweet 16 though, but, you know, they were alright."
Although there is plenty of high school remaining, which college programs interest him at such an early stage?
"Michigan State. UCLA has a nice program … Arizona has a nice program, Ohio State," he says, but adds, "I'm still looking at programs."
To keep attracting the attention of big-time teams, Henton says it's all about putting in the sweat.
"I just stay in the gym and work on my game, that's what I do," he says. "If I'm not at AAU, I'm in the gym."
And his coach sees such dedication as the key to great things for Henton.
"The sky's the limit for him and he understands that," Watts says. "He's such a coachable kid. You know, it's real easy coaching kids that want to be coached, kids that want to get better."
GSN will keep a close eye on Henton as he develops