All Sports Tucson Talk

PODCAST: Salpointe standout Taliyah Henderson, member of Canada’s U18 AmeriCup team

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Taliyah Henderson of Salpointe and Team Canada after making a 3-pointer against USA in the championship of the FIBA U18 AmeriCup championship in Colombia (FIBA photo)

Taliyah Henderson is coming off a whirlwind last couple of weeks that is very unique for a 17-year-old from Tucson.

She participated in Team Canada tryouts at Toronto for the FIBA U18 AmeriCup, made the team, traveled to Colombia for the competition, started all of the six games in a seven-day span and then returned home to rest ahead of July AAU competition with Jason Kidd’s AAU Select Team.

She is not drained. Rather, she is emotionally charged.

“Honestly, overall, my experience was amazing,” said Henderson, the latest guest of the All Sports Tucson Talk podcast. “It was a great learning experience on the basketball court. I got to be around tons of different people that all have the same goal, and all want the same thing, from different countries as well.

“And then obviously my team. That was amazing. I learned so much about who I want to be as a basketball player, what I like and what I don’t like. It was truly just an incredible experience.”

Henderson and Canada came home with the silver medal, falling short against the United States 80-69 in the championship game Sunday night at the Coliseo Bicentenario in Bucaramanga, Colombia.

Henderson, a 6-foot-1 versatile player who can perform at all five positions, finished with nine points, five rebounds and a steal against the US.

Taliyah Henderson manuevers past USA’s Joyce Edwards in the championship game of the FIBA U18 AmeriCup (FIBA photo)

She averaged 9.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game in her first experience with international basketball.

By reaching the semifinals of the AmeriCup, Canada qualified for the FIBA U19 Women’s World Cup next year in the Czech Republic. Henderson is not guaranteed a spot on the team. She will compete in tryouts once again and she welcomes that challenge.

“It’ll be difficult because there are some girls that are on the senior women’s team now that’ll come back down (after the Paris Olympics),” she said. “There will be U17 girls that are really good that will probably come up to this trial. Obviously, the people on the AmericaCup team will try out. So it will probably be a trial of like 30 to 50 girls. It’ll be an incredible opportunity. It’ll be a tough trial, but I’m ready for it. I kind of have a chip on my shoulder now because of how everything happened in AmericaCup. So I’m ready to kill it and continue to compete for Team Canada.”

The chip on her shoulder comes from how demanding she is of herself.

She made 31.8 percent (15 of 48) of her shots from the field and 25 percent (4 of 16) from 3-poiint range in the AmeriCup, numbers she is not happy with.

“I know that I did not play the best; I wish I performed better,” Henderson said. “My shots weren’t falling. Some of the things I wanted to do didn’t work for me. So I honestly just controlled what I could control.

“I controlled my energy. I controlled my rebounding, controlled my defense. I controlled that every time I got the ball, I would make an impact.”

The amount of time over a 20-day span on the court with tryouts, practices and games took a toll even in her youth.

She made her own icebaths in Colombia to help recover.

Henderson, also a state-champion track athlete in the 400- and 800-meter run, comes from an athletic family. She knows how to take care of herself to compete at an optimum level.

Her parents Danica and Anthony were college athletes at Idaho State. Danica played basketball and Anthony, a Salpointe grad, was a linebacker who played his senior year for the Lancers when Dennis Bene began his coaching career in 2001.

Danica also has a background of playing for Team Canada hailing from Langley, a suburb of Vancouver. That’s where Taliyah was born as well.

“Just being a part of Team Canada, being able to say that name was across my chest, wearing Team Canada, is something I’ll never forget,” Taliyah said.

She added that she is honored “being able to kind of follow my mom’s footsteps a little bit, and then also just kind of making my own path.”

“There’s a lot of people that can say like, ‘Oh, you can’t make it. It’s very hard to make it.’ So being able to really show that all the work that I’ve put in throughout the years and all my goals and all my manifesting, and all my vision boards and everything have truly been for this moment … Now that I have made the team, Canada will forever be a part of me. Whether it’s I continue for next year at the World Cup, whether I go to the Senior Team, whether I make the Olympics — Canada now is officially part of me, and I couldn’t be more excited.”

Henderson touched on a variety of topics in the 30-minute podcast, including her experience at Colombia for a week and then the 15-hour travel time coming back to Tucson with a stop in Toronto and then a layover in Houston.

She discussed what a lot of people are wondering: What is happening with her recruitment?

ESPN rates her the No. 21 overall prospect in the nation, a 5-star talent.

Ohio State on Wednesday joined the list of many Power 5 programs who have offered her a scholarship.

Arizona is among them.

Henderson has mentioned before that she grew up an Arizona fan. She told me after Salpointe played in the 2023 MLK Classic at McKale Center, “I’ve been watching this team (Arizona) play forever and I love them a lot. To be able to play on that same court as them is amazing.”

Her recruiting scope is wide open as she heads into the July AAU circuit.

On where she’s at with recruiting:

“I’m in the process of narrowing it down. I had a very successful spring, and because of that, I had to push pause on my recruiting experience, especially as we got into Team Canada. I really just wanted to focus on that. So this whole month has been strictly for Team Canada basketball. I’ve taken quite a few visits already. Before this spring, thinking that I would be done (with recruiting) during spring … it didn’t really go according to my plan. So I probably will take a few more visits and then I’m resuming my limiting down. I don’t have a date. I’ve made a mistake of trying to put a date on it and call it a day. It’s really just a feeling of me and my family — who really speaks to us, who checks all the boxes. Everything like that. So like I said, limiting down, not entirely finished yet, but it’ll be in a few couple months.”

Henderson is one of five returning starters on Salpointe’s team that made the Open Division playoffs and later advanced through the 4A state playoffs to win its second state championship in three years under coach Joe Luevano.

Salpointe won the 2021-22 and 2023-24 state championships, the first two in program history (Andy Morales/

The returning starters, all of them seniors, include Henderson, Jordan Watts, Allison Even, Hannah Williams and Sidney Anderson. Top senior reserves will be Ava Dagnino and Naomi Shoenhage. Talented underclassmen include sophomores Jayci Nelson and Aryanna Kollasch and junior Mia Costa.

Henderson on Salpointe’s outlook for 2024-25:

“We’ve all worked so hard, whether it’s with the team, doing trainings, going to club, like for myself being on the national team, we all are going and we know that when we come back together, because we’re all doing such amazing things separately right now, when we come together, we are going to have a goal in mind and that is to win a championship and to get another ring. We want it to be the Open (Division). There’s so many great players. You want to be the best of the best and I think that we have a great opportunity to do that this year. It won’t be easy. There’s gonna be tons of bumps throughout the road, but I have no doubt that our team could do that. We just have to stay on the same page, continue to grow together and continue to defy all what other people say.”

FOLLOW @JAVIERJMORALES ON TWITTER! publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He is a former Arizona Daily Star beat reporter for the Arizona basketball team, including when the Wildcats won the 1996-97 NCAA title. He has also written articles for, Bleacher Report, Lindy’s Sports,, The Arizona Republic, Sporting News and Baseball America, among many other publications. He has also authored the book “The Highest Form of Living”, which is available at Amazon. He became an educator in 2016 and is presently a special education teacher at Sunnyside High School in the Sunnyside Unified School District.

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