Commentary

Henry's decision could come soon

Originally Published: April 16, 2009
By Christopher Lawlor | ESPN.com

NEW YORK -- Xavier Henry thought he could rest easy this spring. When he signed a national letter of intent with Memphis in November, he washed his hands of the dreaded recruiting process.

This month he discovered that college basketball is "just another business."

Henry, the No. 3-rated senior prospect in the ESPNU 100, has reopened his recruiting process after a tumultuous high school season, which ended with Putnam City High (Oklahoma City) capturing Oklahoma's large-class (6A) state championship.

Henry entered his senior year as the top-ranked player on the ESPNU 100 but missed nearly three months after an automobile accident in October, "which I don't remember much about; it happened in a flash," he said.

Henry required facial surgery to insert two pins and eight screws below his right orbital bone (a socket of the skull in which the eye is situated).

Two weeks ago, his plans changed again when coach John Calipari left Memphis after accepting the Kentucky job.

"When Cal called I was in shock," Henry said, who will participate in Saturday's Jordan Brand Classic at Madison Square Garden (ESPN2, 8 p.m. ET). "My family would've relocated, at least for next season, to Memphis to be near my brother [C.J.] and myself. Suddenly everything was messed up."

Two pivotal reasons he chose Memphis were that his family has a deep-rooted relationship with Calipari -- he coached Henry's father, Carl, as an assistant at Kansas in the late 1980s -- and that his brother, C.J., was a walk-on for the Tigers.

Now Henry is back to square one. This time there will be no protracted decisions.

When he returns home Sunday, Henry will gather his thoughts, confer with his family and "decide within a week" between Kansas and Kentucky.

Memphis was quickly eliminated when first-year coach Josh Pastner was hired. "Josh recruited me hard to Memphis, but I'm going with [head coaching] experience," he said.

DeMarcus Cousins, a talented 6-10 post from LeFlore (Mobile, Ala.), did the same after verbally committing to the Tigers during the season. He recently chose Kentucky.

Will Henry follow?

"I'll know soon," he said.

Here's what Henry had to say about his finalists.

Kansas: "It's only a four and a half hour drive from Oklahoma City, my brother originally committed there out of high school before signing a professional baseball contract, and I know the Kansas tradition through my mom and dad. When my dad received a DVD of their 2008 national championship season, I watched it 50 times; it gave me chills," he said.

Kentucky: "I don't know anything about the program's history, but I do know Calipari is the coach. Cal has a feel for building a program. He makes you already feel a part of the program and wants you to succeed. He'll tell you honestly if you are ready for the NBA."

That won't be for at least one season.

"Even if I could go straight to the NBA, I won't bypass college," Henry said. "I need to learn the game and get stronger. I'd like to go where the school could win a national championship, and have a chance to play with my brother."

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.

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.