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.
In a dramatic announcement live this morning on ESPN, Xavier Henry ended the suspense about his college choice on the last day of the NCAA early signing period.
“I’m deciding that next year I’m going to take my game to Memphis,” Henry, wearing a dark suit and white shirt, said on air as he put on a Tigers baseball cap.
The 6-foot-6 Henry, the No. 1 shooting guard in the Class of 2009, chose the Tigers over defending national champion Kansas.
“The deciding factor was getting my last chance to play with my brother [C.J. Henry] at Memphis and keep my family together so everybody could watch all the games and everything,” he said.
C.J. Henry initially committed to Kansas for basketball before pursuing a baseball career which took him to the minor leagues.
“Now it will be a lot funner playing on the same team with him instead of against him,” Xavier said. “We both know how to play and we play great, so we should take over Memphis.”
Henry called Kansas coach Bill Self and Memphis coach John Calipari early this morning to inform them of his decision.
“Since I had to call [Coach Cal] this morning, he was probably asleep from that late game last night, so he didn’t pick up,” Henry said. “I left him a little message and I told him just to watch ESPN.”
Henry’s mother and father both played at Kansas and his brother had committed there.
“It was really hard [to say no] because I loved everything about the school, the coaches, the players,” he said. “I knew who I would be playing with and everything. It was just the same thing for both schools and I just had to figure out what was more important to me, and I decided to choose Memphis.”
If Memphis loses Tyreke Evans to the NBA next season, Henry could step in and be the team’s go-to guy.
“I’m a great kid and I’m a great basketball player,” Henry said. “I like to score a lot. I like to help my teammates. I like to win. I just like to win a lot. I play my hardest every time.”
“He’s really good, he’s special,” said recruiting expert Mark Adams of ESPNU. “Xavier Henry has an NBA body. He’s got a versatile game. He can slash and dash in the paint. He finishes with authority. When he gets his shoulders by a defender, he’s gone. He’s got that feathery left-handed touch. he brings chemistry to a team. i think this is the one kid who is physically one-and-done unless he enjoys that college experience.”
Henry wore a band-aid over his right eyebrow because he was in a car accident Oct. 22. He recently underwent surgery to repair a fractured cheekbone but says he’s recovering nicely.
“I just got the stitches out of my face the other day and my swelling in my face is going down pretty good so probably in about 4-6 weeks I’ll be able to play again,” he said.
Rumors had run rampant that Henry would announce at halftime of the early morning ESPN game between UMass and Memphis, but he waited until later in the morning to do so.
Henry joins 6-5 wing Nolan Dennis of Texas, 6-6, 210-pound small forward Darnell Dodson and6-9 PF Will Coleman of Miami Dade College in the Memphis recruiting class for 2009. The Tigers have 2 or 3 scholarships left for next season, according to a source.
Memphis also recently hosted 6-5 wing Dominic Cheek of St. Anthony in Jersey City (pictured) and 6-4 point guard John Wall of Raleigh (N.C.) Word of God Academy.
Both Cheek and Wall have said they will announce in the spring.
With Henry going to Memphis, look for the Jayhawks to step up pursuit of Cheek and possibly Lance Stephenson of Brooklyn Lincoln.
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.