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.
The 6-foot-6 wing announced at a press conference at Putnam City High School in Oklahoma City that he and his brother will play for Kansas coach Bill Self next season.
“Next year, I’ll be taking my game to Kansas,” Xavier Henry said in his opening statement at the news conference, according to Gary Bedore of the Lawrence Journal. “That’s all I’m going to say.”
Henry, the No. 3 shooting guard in the Class of 2009, initially chose Memphis over Kansas last November, but after John Calipari took the Kentucky job, Henry asked for his release.
For the past several weeks, the process turned into a soap opera as the Henrys publicly discussed their options: remaining at Memphis, following Calipari to Kentucky or going with Xavier’s original pick of Kansas.
Now the deal is done and Henry becomes the 13th scholarship player on the roster.
“I grew up always wanting to go to Kansas,” Xavier said. “I switched to Memphis because my brother was going there. Now, with coach [Calipari] leaving [for Kentucky], we’ve decided to go to KU. I’m really excited. That’s where my whole family played. Henry’s father, Carl, mother Barbara Adkins and aunt Vicky all played for Kansas.
Henry averaged 28.3 points and 6.5 rebounds and made 44 percent of his 3-point shots last season in leading Putnam City to the Class 6A state title, the largest group in Oklahoma. Henry also played when the school won his freshman year.
“After having coached the young man for four years and watch him be a significant part of our two state championships, and being around him as a person and a player, I think he’s going to be a phenomenal player at the next level,” Putnam City coach A.D. Burtschi said. “He’s going to bring a lot to the table.”
Kansas will be the favorite to win its second NCAA championship in three years next year with Henry, the return of guard Sherron Collins and big man Cole Aldrich.
“They said they will be close to preseason No. 1 without us,” Xavier said. “Now I think we’ll be one of the best teams. I think the sky is the limit.”
“I think you talked about a lot of really good guys and you’re going to add a another great player [in Henry],” Burtschi said. “A guy who can really shoot it. The guy can score off the dribble, he can create for others. He’s got some things he’’s got to work on but what high school player doesn’t?
“He wants to get better. He’s extremely coachable. He puts endless hours into his game every day. He wants to give back to the game.”
C.J. Henry, a walk-on at Memphis and Xavier’s older brother, will have to get an NCAA waiver to play immediately at Kansas, but perhaps the NCAA will be lenient because he never played a game at Memphis due to a broken leg. It would seem logical that Self and the Kansas staff gave C.J. some indication that he would be able to play next season.
“We’re very close. It’s going to be fun to play with my brother,” C.J. told the Lawrence Journal. “It wasn’t going to happen at Memphis. I think Kansas is a good place for us. It’s where [Xavier] wanted to go in the first place. It will be a great experience. It will be fun.”
Now the world waits to see what Brooklyn’s Lance Stephenson will do.
Stephenson is expected to announce within the next few days whether he will attend Kansas, Maryland or St. John’s. Rumors are floating that he might hold a press conference Friday, but a source inside the Lincoln athletic department told SNY’s Brooklyn Sal Thursday morning via email that that was “absolutely false.”
As of Thursday, sources indicated the family was still weighing its options.
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.