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Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
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Wednesday / January 17.
  • Calipari to Kentucky, Will Recruits Follow? Henry, Cousins, Wall Could End up in Lexington

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    John Calipari will be the next coach of Kentucky after accepting an eight-year, $35-million deal, according to the Memphis Commercial Appeal.

    Calipari plans to bring his “whole staff” with him, Memphis assistant coach Orlando Antigua said.

    “Go Big Blue,” Antigua wrote in a text message.

    Memphis point guard Tyreke Evans also plans to leave and will head to the NBA after his freshman season.

    “If he’s leaving, I’m not staying,” Evans told Jeff Goodman of FOXSports.com. “Coach leaving did it for me.”

    Now the question is: What happens to Calipari’s star-studded recruiting class?

    We talked to Carl Henry, the father of Xavier and C.J. Henry; John Wall; and Otis Hughley, the coach of DeMarcus Cousins. Here’s what they had to say.

    Carl Henry said Calipari would like both of his sons — Xavier and C.J. — to follow him to Kentucky.

    “He wants both of my kids to come,” Carl Henry said. “I can’t speak for them. They gotta tell me if they want to go to Kentucky, or where they want to go to school.”

    Xavier is currently in Miami at the McDonald’s All-American Game. Carl said C.J., who is not on scholarship at Memphis, was “kind of in shock that [Calipari] left.”

    Xavier, the No. 1 shooting guard in the Class of 2009, told reporters in Miami that he would re-open his recruitment.

    “I could get out of my letter of intent if he wasn’t there for any reason,” he said of Calipari. “It re-opens my whole recruitment to everybody and anybody.”

    Carl said his son could wind up at Kansas or Kentucky, but would not remain at Memphis.

    “If he wants to go to Kentucky, it’s fine,” Carl said. “If he wants to go to Kansas, it’s fine. They would not go to Memphis, no.”

    Xavier chose Memphis over Kansas last November, and Kansas could try to get him back a second time. He still has three official visits remaining.

    Lance Stephenson, the 6-5 wing out of Brooklyn Lincoln ranked No. 4 among shooting guards, was expected to announce for Kansas Tuesday in Miami, but chose to hold off instead.

    Now it remains to be seen if Kansas coach Bill Self will target Henry over Stephenson, or vice versa.

    The Jayhawks could theoretically land both, but would have to juggle some scholarships with the in-state players on the roster.

    Carl Henry said Kentucky was an option, but that his son didn’t know much about the school.

    “You went to Memphis for Coach Cal,” he said. “He goes to Kentucky. To me it’s nothing as a player to do what Coach Cal did and follow a guy. But as a 17-year-old he might think different. He knows nothing abut Kentucky.”

    Wall, who is uncommitted and is ranked the top recruit in the nation by Rivals.com, said he would consider following Calipari to Kentucky. Memphis had been his leader.

    “Probably so, yeah,” he said Tuesday by phone. “I probably would [follow Calipari]. I really have to sit down and talk to my family and all that.”

    Memphis appears to be out now that Calipari is gone.

    “I wasn’t committed to nobody, they were just my leader and everything like that,” he said of Memphis.

    The 6-4 point guard out of Raleigh (N.C.) Word of God said he’s still considering Duke, Kansas, Miami, Baylor and N.C. State. He has visited Kansas, Duke and Baylor and will trip to Miami April 22. He has one official visit remaining.

    He said he plans to cut his list down by the Jordan Brand Classic April 18 at Madison Square Garden.

    “I think I’m going to narrow my list down at the Jordan Game,” he said. “I’m going to have to rethink it all over and cut my list.”

    And what about possibly playing with Henry and Cousins at Kentucky?

    “It would be good,” he said. “It could still happen or maybe not, you never know.”

    As for the 6-10 Cousins of Mobile (Ala.) LeFlore, he made an oral commitment to Memphis in March but hasn’t signed. Cousins is the No. 1 power forward in the Class of 2009 according to Rivals.

    “I’m just waiting like everybody else,” Cousins told Jerry Meyer of Rivals. “If he leaves, I guess I’ll have to start all the way over.”

    Kansas State and Washington were Cousins’ other top options before he chose Memphis and Calipari. With Coach Cal gone, one source close to Cousins said he thinks he’s gone, too.

    “I think he’s going to follow Coach Cal,” the source said. “He wasn’t going because of Memphis, it was because of Coach Calipari.”

    (Calipari photo image courtesy Memphis Commercial Appeal)

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    Adam Zagoria is a Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), he is also the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist and filmmaker. His articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide. He also won an Emmy award for his work on the SNY mini-documentary on Syracuse guard Tyus Battle. A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013. He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.

    • These kids better be worth the hype, especially this Henry guy. Of all the footage I’ve went through, nothing impresses me. What I want to know is, what is the fuss? Honestly.

    • Well thats a very good question.

      Lance is better in my opinion. I watch both of them play and I think Lance is much better but X is really, really good as well.

    • I love how you’re using this photo to suggest there was some kind of farewell parade for Calipari. This photo is taken from the team’s return from the Sweet 16, and there was no such farewell gathering. In truth, he pretty much snuck out without saying a word to anybody. He’s dead to Memphis fans. By ripping this recruiting class apart and leaving behind nothing but a trail of ashes, he’s pretty much nuked the Memphis program for the next several years. He leaves no legacy at Memphis.

    • X >>>>>> Lance

    • If Calipari has any class,he will stay completely out of the recruitment of Henry,since he has already signed with Memphis and if he has told the dad he wants them at kentucky while the kid has a loi in the hands of Memphis,,i believe it would be a NCAA violation.

    • “If Calipari has any class …”

      Where you been, bro? Class? The man that brought you the UMass School of Cash and Jewelry … Rocky Nets Horror Show … Memphis School of Pre-Draft Loitering …

      Kentucky fans are getting just what they deserve — a dung beetle, someone who’ll feel at home out behind the stalls at Churchill Downs in the manure piles with the AAU handlers and leeches.

    • This is where Mr. Zags again makes wild speculation about things he knows nothing about. This whole article basically assumes that most of Memphis’ recruiting class is going to follow Cal to Kentucky. Guess what folks – THEY HAVE NO OPEN SCHOLARSHIPS! None! Zippy! They’re maxed out at 13.

      MAYBE one of these guys ends up at Kentucky. But some, like Xavier Henry, will likely end up at Kansas, which was his second choice for a school. And even if that happens, someone has to “transfer” or give up their scholarship at Kansas. The notion that they’d be able to get both Stephenson AND Henry, as Mr. Zags suggests, is so far fetched, I can’t even begin to describe it. And you can bet that both one and done players don’t want to end up at the same school. They want to showcase their talents ALONE, not together. So if one ends up there, the other will end up somewhere else. Why do you think Stephenson delayed announcing smart guy? Because he’s not going to Kansas – he’ll go to Maryland or St. Johns now.

    • It is great. U of Kentucky bought a basket ball team — Memphis. So when you see UK in the final 4 next year you will really understand that it is Memphis Tigers that are playing.

      UK is now a scumy program. What would RUPP do?