Commentary

Henry, Cousins back on the market

Nos. 1 and 4 recruits in the country will reopen recruiting process with Calipari leaving

Originally Published: March 31, 2009
By Christopher Lawlor | ESPN.com

CORAL GABLES, Fla. -- Xavier Henry and DeMarcus Cousins were two future Memphis teammates and John Calipari was still the Tigers' coach when the players checked in at the Westin Hotel on Saturday. That won't be the case by the time they check out Thursday.

Calipari reportedly is accepting a deal to coach at Kentucky, and that means Henry, the No. 1 player in the ESPNU 100, and Cousins, who is No. 4 in the rankings, will reopen the recruiting process.

Although Cousins has yet to sign his letter of intent with Memphis and could still sign with anyone, Henry signed during the early signing period. He would need to be released from his letter of intent. Although it's not guaranteed, many schools have been willing to release recruits from their letters of intent when a coach leaves the program.

Henry, a 6-foot-6 guard who recently led Putnam City (Oklahoma City) to Oklahoma's Class 6A state championship, took only two visits -- to Memphis and Kansas -- in the fall before signing with the Tigers. His brother, C.J., plays basketball for the Tigers. His parents are graduates of Kansas, having participated in athletics at the Big 12 Conference school.

"My mother knew something was bothering me this weekend," Henry said. "I'm trying to block it out. She told me to stop worrying about it and get focused on the game,"

Cousins, a 6-9 center from LeFlore High School in Mobile, Ala., knows he'll have to repeat the recruiting process. He considered Washington, Kansas State, NC State, LSU and Rice before choosing Memphis.

"I'll start over," he said. "It's disappointing, but it's a learning experience."

Both are trying to focus on the McDonald's All-America Game and have fun at the event, but they now face an uncertain future.

"It's a bump in the road," Henry said. "We'll see what happens."

Christopher Lawlor

High School Basketball
Christopher Lawlor has covered high school sports for more than 20 years, most recently with USA TODAY, where he was the head preps writer responsible for national high school rankings in football, baseball and boys and girls basketball. He also ran the Gatorade national player of the year program for nine years.