Courtesy: The Kansas City Star
By J. BRADY McCOLLOUGH
The Kansas City Star
For much of the day Tuesday, it was unclear whether Kansas basketball recruits Xavier and C.J. Henry would end up in KU uniforms. But a late-night report said that Xavier would honor his commitment to the Jayhawks.
“I’m goin to kansas and that’s final,” Xavier Henry wrote via text message to Cory Anderson of radio station KCSP (610 AM).
When the Henry brothers gave their pledge to the Jayhawks in late April, it seemed their arrival on campus would be a sure thing. But since that news conference in Oklahoma City, Xavier, one of the most highly-recruited players in the class of 2009, had been having second thoughts.
Last week, Carl Henry, the boys’ father, told The Star that Xavier had interest a month ago in playing a season in Europe. On Tuesday, Carl told KCSP in an interview that Xavier had an urge to switch his commitment to Kentucky a couple of weeks ago. Carl told the station that the family planned to meet to discuss their sons’ future once again on Tuesday evening with Kentucky back in the conversation.
Carl said it was the boys’ mother, Barbara Henry, who convinced Xavier to choose Kansas over Kentucky in April because she did not want to live in Kentucky. Carl told the station he stepped in two weeks ago during Xavier’s potential change of heart and convinced Xavier to honor his commitment to KU.
“I have held him together,” Carl told the station. “I said ‘Hey, you went on TV and told everyone you’re going to Kansas. Why not just go to Kansas? We shouldn’t have to be drug through this over and over and over.’”
Carl and Barbara Henry both played basketball at Kansas during the early 1980s, and it had been often assumed that C.J. and Xavier would end up in Lawrence once they established themselves as elite prep basketball players. But C.J., who played three years of pro baseball in the Yankees’ organization after committing to KU in 2005, committed to Memphis last August. In November, Xavier followed. Both players wanted to play for former Memphis coach John Calipari, now the coach at Kentucky.
When Calipari left Memphis for Kentucky in early April, the Henrys reopened their recruitment. Carl told The Star last week that Xavier and Barbara felt betrayed by Calipari at first. But Xavier, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard, eventually decided he wanted to follow Calipari to Kentucky. Barbara stepped in and said she wouldn’t move to Kentucky, and Kansas fans soon got their wish.
Even without the Henrys in his first recruiting haul at Kentucky, Calipari put together the No. 1 class in the country with point guard John Wall, guard Eric Bledsoe and big men DeMarcus Cousins and Daniel Orton. Carl Henry told the station that Wall and Orton, friends of Xavier’s, have been trying to convince him to become the last piece of what could be regarded as the top recruiting class in college history.
Xavier has not signed a letter of intent with Kansas because players are only allowed to sign with one school and Xavier signed with Memphis. He could have left KU without any roadblocks. As a walk-on, C.J., a 6-foot-3 point guard whose college education is being paid by the Yankees, is free to go as well. But Carl Henry told KCSP on Tuesday that C.J. told him a few weeks ago that he was going to Kansas no matter what.
As it stands, with Xavier and C.J. still orally committed to Kansas, the Jayhawks look to be the consensus preseason No. 1. If Xavier were to leave, it would give KU an open scholarship, and another highly touted shooting guard, Lance Stephenson, committed to Cincinnati on Tuesday afternoon.
Before Calipari left Memphis for Kentucky, KU was seen as the front-runner for Stephenson. But once the Henrys reopened their recruitment, Stephenson put his decision on hold.
In his radio interview, Carl Henry said he felt his family was negatively portrayed in a story in Sunday’s edition of The Star. In addition to reporting Xavier’s interest in playing in Europe, that article also quoted Carl as saying that Xavier was uninterested in taking college classes.
However, when asked by one of the radio hosts: “You’re not saying that any of his facts were inaccurate, you just thought you were portrayed in a negative light?” Carl Henry replied “Yes.”