KU coach Self thrilled with landing Henry

Friday, April 24, 2009


AP Photo

Star recruit Xavier Henry laughs during a news conference in which he announced his decision to play basketball at Kansas University. Henry made the announcement on Thursday at his Putnam City (Okla.) High School.

— Xavier Henry actually cell-phoned coach Bill Self with his decision to become a Kansas Jayhawk after a workout on Tuesday night in Putnam City High’s gym.

“Coach Self was really excited, especially having the both of us,” Xavier said, noting brother C.J., a Memphis freshman guard, is also headed to KU.

“Coach asked me, ‘Are you sure?’ He wanted me to be serious. I said, ‘I’m coming.’’’

Self, who said he was “crushed,” when Xavier signed with Memphis last November, admits he’s thrilled to now land Xavier five months later. He’s not allowed to comment on the addition of C.J. just yet.

“It’s a big day for our basketball program,” Self said. “It’s something that I’ve always dreamed of. If we were going to sign any recruits since I’ve been here, I’d think the Henrys would be a family we could recruit for a variety of reasons and good ones (including the fact Xavier’s mom, dad and aunt played here).

“I’ve known the family a long time. To get a chance to work with them again is a pretty big honor for me.”


•Mom’s moving to Lawrence: Barbara Henry, mother of C.J. and Xavier, works for Hertz in Oklahoma City. She said she’ll be moving to Lawrence and hopefully catch on with the company’s branch here.

“I last lived in Lawrence in 1985. I know ... (that’s) a long time ago,” she said with a smile. “My memories are of the coach. Marian Washington is a great person.”

Carl Henry, father of the Henry brothers, has said he will continue to work as coach of the Athletes First AAU program in Oklahoma City.

•Foot injury: C.J. Henry, a 6-foot-3 freshman guard, sat out the season at Memphis because of a foot fracture.

“It’s still healing. It’s 85 percent,” Barbara Henry said. “It’s the only issue with him ... getting healthy.”

C.J. Henry actually will be a sophomore next season because his college career started after the age of 21 and the clock continues to tick each year after that.

•Prophet: Putnam City basketball coach and athletic director, A.D. Burtschi, proved to be a prophet regarding Xavier Henry’s college choice.

“My high school coach ... when I was making my decision the first time (in November) he wrote down where he thought I’d be going,” Xavier said. “He was going to keep it secret until I made my decision. After I chose Memphis, I didn’t tell him I wanted to see it. He told me this week after I made my decision (to attend KU) that his call was right. It’s the way it played out. He got it correct.”

Burtschi, by the way, ended a 45-minute news conference by informing the media Henry had to get to a class to take a test.

“It’s a History exam,” Xavier said.

•He loves the fieldhouse: Xavier Henry has attended Late Night in the Phog several times and said he recalls making his first trip to Lawrence “when I was really young.

“I don’t have any memorable memories,” he said. “I just love the gym and love the atmosphere. I love everybody in there. The fans are so crazy.”

•High expectations: Xavier Henry believes the Jayhawks could be great next season.

“They (experts) said they could be close to preseason No. 1 without us,” Xavier said. “Now I think we’ll be one of the best teams. I think the sky is the limit.”

Henry said he’s good buddies with several of the current KU players. Of late, he’s spent time talking to Mario Little and Cole Aldrich.

“Mario called after his surgery (on lower left leg last week),” Xavier said. “He wanted to make sure I was doing all right. Cole just talked to me like a regular person, wanted to see what I was up to.”

•Kentucky was runner-up: The Henry brothers chose KU over Kentucky. Memphis was not an option after coach John Calipari left for UK.

“I didn’t think coach Cal would be leaving. It happens to a lot of people. I wasn’t immune to it,” Xavier said.

Of not following Calipari, Henry said: “It was hard because coach Cal and his style of play. He brought a couple recruits from my class at Memphis. I still wanted a chance to play for him.”

•Mama could play, too: The former Barbara Adkins said her sons don’t really believe she was a standout player at KU.

“They don’t believe mama could halfway play,” Barbara joked. “Their dad ... they have that bond (with him). They do that all the time together.”

Carl Henry, who didn’t attend Thursday’s news conference, coached his sons when they played for Athletes First AAU.

•Cousins reaction: DeMarcus Cousins, one of the country’s top players who is headed to Kentucky, spoke with Xavier Henry after Xavier made his decision.

“He said a couple things I can’t say here,” Henry cracked. “He wished me luck. He was cool.”

•Henry on Aldrich and Sherron Collins returning to KU influencing his decision: “It was pretty big knowing that our team would still be really good next year. I wanted to play for a real good team.”

•Recruiting: Self, who has an incoming class of the Henry brothers, Elijah Johnson, Thomas Robinson and Jeff Withey, believes he’s finished recruiting for the coming season.

“For this year it looks that way,” he said. “I don’t know if you are ever done. We can focus in on young underclassmen we are trying to get in future years.

“This year’s class will go down as one of the premier classes in the country in large part due to our late addition,” Self added. “I’m excited. We didn’t lose any key components from this past year and were able to add some. I think it makes for great competition in practice and makes us much harder to guard.”

•Red-shirts?: Self was asked if he’d red-shirt any players next season with so much talent on the roster.

“I won’t talk about that now, but that’s always a possibility. I do what is best for the program and would if it’s in the best interest to do so.”