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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Ballyhooed Oklahoman commits to KU—*

*--Despite family ties to Jayhawks, Henry likely to play pro baseball

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If C.J. Henry plays college basketball -- and right now that's a big if -- he'll do so at the alma mater of both his mother and father: Kansas University.

Henry, a 6-foot-3, two-time all-state guard from Putnam City (Okla.) High and the son of ex-Jayhawks Carl Henry and Barbara Adkins, on Wednesday orally committed to walk on at KU.

There's a huge catch, however.

Henry, who is one of the top baseball shortstops in the country and believed to be a certain first-round pick in the June 7 major-league baseball draft, won't set foot on KU's campus if indeed he's tapped in the early rounds by MLB.

"If anything crazy happens with the draft, I will be coming to KU to play basketball," said Henry, who Baseball America predicts will be tapped 16th in Round One -- a slot that would guarantee at least a $1 million signing bonus.

"Crazy" in Henry's eyes means falling past the first few rounds, where the bonus money still can reach six figures.

"My name could slip. I could fall to the sixth, seventh round. If so, I'd come to college and play both sports," Henry said of basketball and baseball.

If he doesn't slip that far, college appears to be out of the question.

"I really don't think a (baseball) team would invest that much money and let me play basketball. I understand that," Henry said. "If I'm picked in the first or second round, I would not want to risk getting hurt. My goal is to play in the major leagues. I think I can do it in two, three years. Everybody knows my first priority is baseball. It's what I want to do."

Henry, who hit .481 with 13 homers and 51 RBIs for Putnam City High last season after averaging 22 points per game in basketball, worked out Tuesday for the Florida Marlins and Colorado Rockies on Wednesday at his suburban Oklahoma City high school.

Various baseball officials have told him he's a "five-tool" player -- one who can run, throw, hit for average, hit for power and field.

"I guess they think I'm a good player," said Henry, who concedes he could use his commitment to KU as leverage with the big-league team that drafts him. "I would think it would help, but that's up to my adviser. The draft is unpredictable. You could be in the first round and not be taken until late because of signability. I don't see a problem with my signability."

He said he decided to commit to KU on Wednesday -- over North Carolina and Texas -- because of the unpredictability of the draft and the fact he wished he could follow in the footsteps of his parents playing hoops at KU.

"It's a great place, great atmosphere, and there's the opportunity to play right away," said Henry, who has visited KU three times, including an official visit for last year's game against Oklahoma State. "I know J.R. (Giddens) and Darnell (Jackson) really well. They come from my city. My parents went there. That's a big thing. They have nothing but good things to say about Kansas."

Even if Henry doesn't show up, there could be another member of the family playing at KU some day. C.J.'s 14-year-old brother, Xavier, already is 6-6 and is projected as a future blue-chipper.

KU coach Bill Self cannot comment on unsigned prospective players in accordance with NCAA rules.

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High praise: Of Henry, Baseball America wrote: "No player has moved farther or faster this spring than this multi-tooled, two sport star."

"They (baseball scouts) tell me they can't believe how much I've improved from last year to this year," said Henry, who also is a pitcher but has a future at shortstop and/or center field.

Henry is not rated in basketball by rivals.com because he long has been expected to turn pro. He's considered a top-100 talent in basketball.

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Draft update: KU senior Wayne Simien held an individual workout with the Portland TrailBlazers on Wednesday. He also has worked out for Sacramento and Golden State and will work out for the Lakers and Clippers on his trip West.

Keith Langford, who visits Portland's camp today, has worked out for Houston and Golden State and has sessions set for Phoenix, Seattle and New Orleans. Aaron Miles has worked out for Houston, Detroit, Cleveland and New York and has sessions set for Seattle, the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver.

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It's official: Bill Self officially was named to USA Basketball's collegiate competition committee Wednesday. Other Div. One coaches who will join Self in choosing college players for USA Basketball teams: Jim Boeheim (Syracuse, chair), Fran Dunphy (Penn), Tom Izzo (Michigan State), Ernie Kent (Oregon) and Tubby Smith (Kentucky).

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Big O: According to the Sacramento Bee, former Jayhawk center Greg Ostertag plans to exercise the $4.4 million second-season option on the contract he signed with Sacramento last summer. He's represented by Octagon, the same company that has contracted with KU's Miles.

-- Assistant sports editor Gary Bedore can be reached at 832-7186.

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