Wednesday, April 22, 2009
KU beats out UK for Henry brothers
Kansas continued to cement its status as the top team for the 2009-10 season with the addition of Xavier Henry, which will reportedly become official at a Thursday news conference.
The Jayhawks had the spot once the entire starting five returned, including potential lottery pick Cole Aldrich and possible first-round pick Sherron Collins. Kansas, defending its national title, lost to Michigan State in the Sweet 16 after winning the Big 12 title outright.
A source close to Memphis said Xavier's brother, walk-on C.J. Henry, told Memphis coach Josh Pastner on Wednesday that he and his brother were going to attend Kansas next season. Xavier Henry was also considering Kentucky. C.J. Henry, who sat out this past season at Memphis, isn't on scholarship because of a financial package he received from being in the New York Yankees' minor league system.
Xavier Henry, ranked No. 3 in the ESPU100, initially chose Memphis and then-head coach John Calipari over Kansas in the fall. He signed with the Tigers and can't sign two national letters of intent, so technically he's not bound to Kansas either.
Assuming he's sticks with KU, though, the 6-foot-6 shooting guard from Oklahoma City will give the Jayhawks a third scorer to go with Collins and Aldrich, making the team even more productive offensively. C.J. Henry would likely be a backup point guard and doesn't cost the Jayhawks a scholarship.
Henry's decision could have a positive impact on a good friend of Kansas coach Bill Self, former assistant Norm Roberts of St. John's. KU was also recruiting shooting guard Lance Stephenson of Brooklyn's Lincoln High. But Henry's decision could mean Stephenson, No. 12 in our rankings, chooses the hometown Red Storm, a much-needed get for Roberts in his rebuilding process in Queens. Stephenson also has Maryland high on his list.
The other elite player still undecided is program-changing point guard John Wall of Raleigh's Word of God Christian Academy. Wall has a lengthy list that includes Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina State, Miami, Baylor, Florida, Oregon, Memphis and at times North Carolina and Kansas.
• Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim remains optimistic that he has a top-20 team even without point guard Jonny Flynn. Boeheim said Wednesday that incoming freshman point Brandon Triche will do fine in place of Flynn, saying he will be a solid 10-point, five-assist performer for the Orange next season. He won't look for his shot as much as Flynn, but Boeheim said Triche will feed post players Arinze Onuaku and Rick Jackson more than Flynn did last season. He also said Iowa State transfer Wesley Johnson is an upgrade over departing junior Paul Harris and that Andy Rautins will be just as good, if not better, than departing junior Eric Devendorf in the starting lineup.
"We lost three starters but I'll take Wesley Johnson over Paul Harris and Andy Rautins over Eric Devendorf," Boeheim said. "In some ways, Triche will be better for us. He's really good."
Boeheim went on to praise Johnson, saying that he's "the real deal, he's really, really good." Boeheim said the confusion with Harris about him declaring for the draft was a miscommunication. When Boeheim said Harris was going to declare for the draft, Harris interpreted that as meaning Boeheim had actually turned in the paperwork. He said that didn't happen. According to Boeheim, Harris intends to declare for the draft by Sunday's deadline. Devendorf does as well.
Boeheim said he couldn't get Harris on the phone for three weeks after the season. Apparently he was not around for a spell. But Harris told him he would do everything he could to pass six hours this semester. Not sure how that would play out in class, but we shall see if it matters.
• Another day, another dispatch from Davidson that leaves little indication as to what Stephen Curry will do about declaring for the draft. Davidson coach Bob McKillop said Wednesday that he conducted individual workouts with the Wildcats' guards, including Curry, who had "great bounce in his step." The deadline to declare is Sunday.
• The SEC-Big East Invitational has been viewed by the Big East as one of the toughest events to schedule. The league has 16 teams as opposed to 12 for the SEC. And the marquee teams have to be spaced out. Neutral arenas have to be booked and the event has fallen around final exam week. The latest installment does provide at least one marquee game in each site. The Kentucky-Connecticut game takes on a new level with John Calipari and Jim Calhoun matching wits in New York on Dec. 10. These are two coaches who are a favorite in the news conference room for their candor and biting commentary, sometimes directed at the media. And with Calipari at Kentucky, the Wildcats are sure to be a top 15-20 team. The undercard of St. John's-Georgia won't pull in the fans, but at least it may set up a win for the hometown Red Storm.
Meanwhile, the Syracuse-Florida game in Tampa would have been a major showdown had Jonny Flynn and Nick Calathes stayed at Syracuse and Florida, respectively. Flynn is definitely gone after he signed with an agent, while Calathes has left the door open to return -- although that might be unlikely if he receives positive first-round buzz. Mississippi State could be a sleeper team once again in the SEC West if Jarvis Varnado returns, but DePaul may be a bottom-feeder again in the Big East. So the undercard in that event isn't as enticing.
• Boeheim said he was hoping to get a return game out of the SEC-Big East Invitational game. He said the game in Tampa next season will be his one nonconference game outside the state of New York. The Orange are one of the four hosts for the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic, along with North Carolina, Cal and Ohio State.
• Getting a rematch of the Michigan State-North Carolina title game on Dec. 1 in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge was a must. This game shouldn't disappoint and is clearly the best matchup of the possible games in the 2009 Challenge. Boston College at Michigan, two NCAA teams from a year ago that should be in again, and Duke at Wisconsin are the two headline games on Dec. 2. The Badgers will have to be at their best to beat the Blue Devils, so at this point, the BC-Michigan game seems more evenly matched.
Wake Forest at Purdue on Dec. 1 has the potential to be a lead game if Jeff Teague returns to the Demon Deacons. But that won't be known until mid-June. The return game of Illinois at Clemson on Dec. 2 should also match two solid NCAA teams. Florida State at Ohio State and Minnesota at Miami on Dec. 2 have the potential to be competitive. The Seminoles believe they're an NCAA team even without Toney Douglas, the Buckeyes and Gophers should be NCAA tourney teams again next season, and if the Hurricanes can get another scoring guard, they have a shot. Still hard to predict what kind of buzz, if any, will be around Penn State at Virginia on Nov. 30 and Maryland at Indiana, Virginia Tech at Iowa and Northwestern at NC State on Dec. 1.