Friday, April 24, 2009


Talent runs in the family


In late summer of 1981, Barbara Adkins enrolled for her freshman year at Kansas University. Adkins had been recruited out of an Oklahoma City high school to play basketball for the Jayhawks.

Soon thereafter, Carl Henry, who had already enrolled for his junior year at Oklahoma City University, abruptly left that school, informing his roommate he was transferring to KU.

Why had Henry, a basketball standout for two seasons with the Stars, pulled up stakes? Was it because OCU, now in the NAIA but then an NCAA Division I school, had changed coaches?

At the time, Henry used that excuse, saying he had talked to the new coach and learned of his plans to slow the ball down. Yet there was a flaw in Henry’s reasoning. Kansas coach Ted Owens had never been accused of being a run-and-shoot proponent.

Later, I asked Henry if Adkins had been the real reason he had transferred to Kansas.

“Well,” he answered with a smile, “she’s a pretty big reason.”

Henry would pay a stiff price for following his heart. The new OCU coach was so miffed about his best player’s departure that he refused to grant him a release, meaning Henry couldn’t receive any KU scholarship money during the 1981-82 season while sitting out under NCAA transfer rules.

So there Henry was on Mount Oread unable to play basketball and hurting for money when he could have been playing on full scholarship in his hometown.

Yeah, Adkins was a pretty big reason, all right. But at least Henry had her to cheer him up and, later, he was able to obtain a Pell grant to help with his tuition.

It’s easy to understand why that OCU coach was ticked. Henry was the team centerpiece, averaging 19.0 points and 11.7 rebounds during his sophomore year. And, as expected, OCU’s loss became KU’s gain.

Henry earned second-team All-Big Eight honors as a junior, leading the Jayhawks in scoring at 17.4 ppg. Then as a senior he averaged 16.8 ppg. and was a first-team all-league selection.

It didn’t take long for Kansas fans to realize Henry was a natural forward trapped in a guard’s body. He was listed at 6-foot-4, yet was as good around the basket as any KU player I’ve ever seen. Blessed with an uncanny knack for retrieving loose balls and earning stick-backs, Henry was the prototype “garbage man.”

If he had been four or five inches taller, Henry would have enjoyed a lengthy NBA career. But at 6-4 you have to be able to shoot from distance to be successful in the pros, and Henry’s maximum range was about 15 feet.

What about Adkins? Four inches shorter than Henry, she wasn’t quite as talented as her boyfriend, who would become her husband. Still, she had a productive four-year career with the Jayhawks by averaging 8.0 points and 5.0 rebounds a game.

Her sister Vickie, however, was one of the best basketball players in Kansas history. Vickie Adkins, a 6-1 forward, became a three-time All-Big Eight selection.

Vickie still ranks No. 4 on KU’s career scoring chart.

Clearly, Carl Henry Jr. and Xavier Henry, sons and nephews of former Jayhawks, owe a lot to genetics.


Michael Auchard 10 years, 9 months ago

This reads like an article you've been sitting on for awhile, Mr. Woodling. But, I like it. Made me smile.

Here's to the next generation of Henrys!

Dirk Medema 10 years, 9 months ago

Nice article, Chuck. Thanks.

Max - 11.7 rebounds sounds like F #'s to me, tho 6-4 is definitely a G body. "Blessed with an uncanny knack for retrieving loose balls and earning stick-backs," sounds like a reasonable recollection as well. Maybe "garbage man" is a bit more sensational than accurate. Thanks for adding the recollection of the dribble pull-up component of his game. Keep it positive.

Rock Chalk

Paul Meyer 10 years, 9 months ago

Did Carl play one season for Coach Brown? And did he play any with Danny Manning?

KEITHMILES05 10 years, 9 months ago

If Carl is so high on KU why isn't he moving to Lawrence also?

sevenyearhawk 10 years, 9 months ago

Nice article ...

the things a man will do for love! :D

It's a given that their parents will be around for X and CJ's games, but I wonder how much their mom (and/or aunt) will now become involved with the current women's program?

I love Lawrence and the University as well, so much that we got married in a church just off Mass Street in school colors (blue dresses, red ties and vests) and my wife and I currently drive a red and a blue car with custom KU-themed plates...

But I wouldn't want to live in the city now, either ... trips back there still have a certain mystique, which would be absent if you experienced it everyday.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 9 months ago

Max - Thanks for the follow. Sounds like vivid memories. Maybe we need you to write a historical piece about Carl instead, or maybe you could pull a "jaybate" and just blog for a while. What did he avg for boards at KU?

Chuck - Any chance that you or Mr Mayer will be digging up some history from when CJ was in HS and being recruited?

Sort of a shame he can't play hardball for the 'Hawks also. Maybe Ritchie will let him workout with the team a bit in his spare time.

KUFan90 10 years, 9 months ago

PaulD - Carl did not play with Manning. But I think Carl's senior year was Brown's first year as head coach.

Joel Hood 10 years, 9 months ago

KUFan90 - you are correct. 1983-84 was Larry's first year at KU and Carl's last year. But, Since Ed Manning was coaching at KU and Danny an All American at LHS, Carl would have known him.

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