Thursday, July 23, 2009


Relax: Henrys will fit in


Four summers ago, Bill Self had assembled quite a roster of young basketball talent, one featuring incoming freshmen Julian Wright, Mario Chalmers and Micah Downs, all veterans of the McDonald’s All-American game.

For most coaches, that trio alone would form a once-in-a-lifetime recruiting class. Yet, Self wanted more because he always wants more. He has the confidence he can turn a room full of talented individuals into a cohesive team, and his teams always have backed it up by showcasing defensive intensity and keeping the ball moving offensively.

So when the chance arose to pursue a long, 6-foot-6 small forward blessed with quick feet, Self went after him, despite concerns from outsiders about whether Brandon Rush would fit well in a Kansas uniform. For one thing, there was the bad history between the Rush family and the KU basketball program. The end of Roy Williams’ recruitment of JaRon Rush left scars. Kareem Rush played for hated Missouri.

Aside from his last name, there were causes for concern. Clearly, Brandon had no interest in becoming a college student. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have gone to the pre-draft camps for evaluation. Plus, he had attended five high schools, and the NCAA Clearinghouse had trouble sorting through his transcript. Such transience portended a problematic attitude. Must be a ball hog who won’t play defense, many feared. Plus, how long would it take him to blend in given that he wasn’t with the team in the summer?

Then Rush was cleared to play at Kansas, shared the ball and developed into the team’s best defender. He had a knack for the game, talent and a terrific attitude. As for concerns adding him to the roster would mess with team chemistry, it did, but only as it related to one player. With Rush on board, there was no playing time for Downs, who blew town under the cover of darkness.

Rush’s two biggest accomplishments will help KU recruiting forever. First, he played a key role for a national championship team. Next, he was a lottery pick.

Here we are four summers later, and a segment of the KU fan base feels a little uneasy about the addition of a long, 6-6 small forward blessed with quick feet. As with Rush in the weeks before he enrolled at Kansas, Xavier Henry does not appear interested in the student portion of student-athlete. The Henry brothers, Xavier and C.J., stayed in Oklahoma City, instead of joining teammates in Lawrence, a legitimate concern. There are family issues, as with Rush, given that Carl Henry, the players’ dad, has talked too much. Face it, once his sons perform well for Kansas, everybody stops caring about the father’s tongue.

Here’s guessing it all will work out fine once the Henry brothers come under the tutelage of the same coach who won a national championship and prepared the players on that team well enough to earn a living playing basketball that five of them were selected in the same NBA Draft. The Henrys will want to become better players to maximize earning potential. They’ll trust that Self knows how to do that for them the way he has done it for so many before them, and they’ll learn how to play winning basketball.


Relic 10 years, 6 months ago

Is there any reason at all for this article? No one has any problems with anyone. Leave things alone because they will be here in August and are ready to work. In fact, they are hard at work in the gym in OKC so who cares. They will be Hawks.

suttonku 10 years, 6 months ago

we know but there are still people out there that dont think the Henrys will fit in and will be a cancer in the clubhouse (I think they will be great) and this article is trying to call everyone down and compare their situation to Rush's and also prove that Self has done this before and so he knows what he is yes there is a reason for this article

waywardJay 10 years, 6 months ago

As much as I have based Mayer's poor wrtiing in a previous article......

Tis article actually does have merit, it's a little late... could have used this after the June Kentucky incident...... howevr, better late than never.....

At least in this one we don't throw sherron under a bus..... but wwouldn't it be 5 years... seeing as last year would have been mario's Senior season ????

hirschtodd 10 years, 6 months ago

Why is everyone LOVE Bashing Keeg? Great Article. A great angle to put this current story in perspective with KU recent past. Keep up the good work Tom. Don't worry...I still scream at my radio any time Michael Kay is on.

Martin Rosenblum 10 years, 6 months ago

This subject matter was resting in peace. During a slow daily "breaking news" stretch, this could be considered as a big fat worm to throw out there to ilicit comments and to keep the Bball world coming back to this site.

As outspoken as I, and others, have been on this topic, I'm at a point where it just isn't prudent to continue the discussions any further. I plead with my fellow posters, avoid temptation here. By now we've beaten and buried that poor tired old horse. Let's not exhume him!

DrPepper 10 years, 6 months ago

Except that Brandon was in Lawrence before he was even cleared. He was hanging out with his future team and playing pickup games pretty much before he even committed to Kansas.

chicagoeddie 10 years, 6 months ago

micah downs and the idiot david padgett... look what you guys could of had... losers

Keith Kienzle 10 years, 6 months ago

Give us EJ, CJ, and TRob news please! We KNOW the Henrys will be fine.

Keith Kienzle 10 years, 6 months ago

Give us EJ and TRob news please! We KNOW the Henrys will be fine.

Michael Ales 10 years, 6 months ago

I agree with most above that this Henry stuff is getting old, they're Jayhawks, let's let them show their stuff. I want to read more about the improvements this summer of the REST of the returning and new players on the TEAM! This is the Kansas Jayhawks, not the Kansas Henry's. HCBS will mold this talent into a TEAM.

mjlindsm 10 years, 6 months ago

DrPepper, what are you talking about? Rush wasn't at KU during the summer, and he never did commit to Kansas. He just kinda enrolled in classes. The Henrys will probably be there before Rush was.

mjlindsm 10 years, 6 months ago

Nice article Keegan, except one thing. I wrote this exact thing making the same comparisons to the two in a post about a month ago. How about some credit? I guess mockery is the greatest form of flattery, so that's credit enough I guess.

jchief40 10 years, 6 months ago

Great article Tom - ignore the global warmists.

ObiWan 10 years, 6 months ago

The thought of Xavier turning out like Brandon Rush is very exciting! I certainly hope it works out that way. Brandon was a fantastic kid, but was surrounded by bad publicity caused by his family. Sounds pretty familiar so far...

milwaukeeJAYHAWK 10 years, 6 months ago

yeah, great article. who cares if it's "late"? the season hasn't started, so if people still have qualms about the Henrys, then it isn't "late".

STLHawkFan 10 years, 6 months ago

Can't the posters here show a little respect? This is an internet article, no more, no less. Rather than wasting your time complaining, read the article and move on. If you don't like Keegan, don't read it. Seems to me the Fizzou fans might have a chance at out classing most of you. Embarrassing....

biff_steel 10 years, 6 months ago

"Xavier Henry does not appear interested in the student portion of student-athlete. "

oh nos! don't let daddy henry read this!

kansasYEA 10 years, 6 months ago

I agree with most people that this article is unnecessary. and im sure that many people who did read this quickly moved on. Exactly what have you learned? that bill self is a good coach- obviously we know that! try to talk about that fact without continuing to bash the henry family.

brandon rush and xavier henry are completely different people and the comparison stops at yes, they are both 6'6 and have quick feet, that does not merit a story, other than to again bring out negative feelings about henry's dad. we dont either one's true motives so just stop it !

Jonathan Allison 10 years, 6 months ago

We certainly were lucky to have Brandon for 3 years. We can only hope that we get Xavier for more than 1. But I certainly hope that Elijah Johnson doesn't get Micah Downs syndrome.

DrPepper 10 years, 6 months ago

mjlindsm, I certainly hope the Henry's are on campus before Rush was. I said that Brandon was in Lawrence before he was even cleared by the NCAA.

Rush was a different situation. Because he declared for the NBA draft (back when that was allowed) and then decided to attend college, KU didn't start recruiting him until JULY 30 (ie: summer was nearly over)!!

He committed to Self on Aug 15th after having also visited Illinois and Indiana in August. He was spending time in Lawrence despite not yet being cleared by the NCAA. Yes, he started classes late, but he was around and the wait was for the NCAA to approve KU giving him a scholarship.

Of the NBA issue, Self said: "He has not once mentioned to me, 'I want to be out of here after one year.' He has never said he is one and done. He said, 'I want to come to Kansas.' There, mjlindsm, is your commitment from Brandon Rush.

ObiWan 10 years, 6 months ago

I saw somewhere that X will wear 1, and CJ will wear 13.

phogdat 10 years, 6 months ago

The Henry's deserve a break from this type of speculation. Coach Self knows far better than anyone what he is getting and what needs to be accomplished to create the best possible Rock Chalk team. What this article grinds on is the confusion created by Carl who certainly made himself available for various sound bites...hasn't said anything lately!! This is a proud family and without the continual support of family these kids would not be at this point of excellence. The Henry brothers will make us a better team and enhance our chances for a NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP...period.

MinnesotaJay 10 years, 6 months ago

Most of the articles are 'unnecessary.' This one is unnecessary. If necessary were the sole criterion for inclusion of pieces, the site would resemble a barren wasteland at times.

But, it's an interesting and appropriate read at a slow time for news. Thanks for writing it, Tom.

weghawk 10 years, 6 months ago

Wasn't Daddy Henry (and Mom too) a JAYHAWK? Everyone on here preaches about the Jayhawk Nation being a family, once a hawk always a hawk, blah blah......must be short-term or what have you done for me lately mentality cause no love is being shown to the original Henry. Watch-out or those former players you all love may not want to bring their sons back here after the way the Henry's are being called out.

hailtoku 10 years, 6 months ago

Read the first paragraph, skimmed the rest of the article and saw there were no quotes, and that was it for me.

Pointless article.

trmatlock 10 years, 6 months ago

Brandon always had a GOOD attitude. Although he always wanted to be in the NBA, he didn't go around pouting and threatening to go to other schools if there was a chance he might not get his way every moment. He did everything he could to make himself and the team better. Guess what! It worked. Thanks Brandon

Cameron Schienebeck 10 years, 6 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

Matt Bowers 10 years, 6 months ago

Rush is one of the best players to ever come through in our storied history. I remember that many people, including myself, were very worried. He not only loved KU, but stuck around for three years. I believe that the Henry's will be viewed the same as Rush and be part of our beloved when there time at KU is over. Keegan did stretch the truth when he called Rush the best defender, that still goes to Chalmers and Robinson. Good article and good perspective. We should give these guys a chance before we judge. One more thing. As an educator, it is normal for parents to go overboard...not a big deal. Welcome Henry's and I believe that this time next year we will be praising you.

Rock Chalk

mjlindsm 10 years, 6 months ago

That's a KU pet peeve of mine when people think Chalmers was a better defender than Rush. There's a reason Rush was always on the other team's best player at the end of a game. He was the best at keeping his man in front of him and especially at bothering the shot. Chalmers was the worst at doing both of those. He got a lot of steals, but he also gave up a lot of points. He was just more aggressive. Rush was better at keeping his man from scoring and from getting to the hoop to help others score.

DrPepper 10 years, 6 months ago

I agree completely, mjlindsm! Chalmers disrupted because he was sagging off his guy getting steals (while Robinson was giving the handler fits). The shut-down guy was Rush.

Jonathan Allison 10 years, 6 months ago

Chalmers would have only gotten half the number of steals if we had anyone by Russell Robinson on the point guard. Robinson was a stud, but Rush had to guard anyone over 6'3 who was any good. Rush loved guarding the other team's best player, too. That was one of the first things he did on campus was ask Coach Self to teach him how to guard.

KGphoto 10 years, 6 months ago

mjlindism: Get used to having your ideas pirated by Keeg party. I'm on my third.

In a sense it's cool that he's paying attention to the readers, but to take full credit is skeezy. Ah well. At least we've something to talk about. And you can take a little pride in the fact that you're fueling Jayhawk Nation. Even if it's second hand.

And, not mentioned so far: Rush wasn't the top rated player coming in. He was an outside shot at the NBA's first round. Zahveeyay is a top 2 guy, and is risking more by playing a year. And he obviously doesn't have a choice or he wouldn't even be acknowledging KU, or Memphis/UK, or anyone outside his agent/dad Carl. Dad don't care about nothin' but stars and cash. Respectfully Carl. But that's the impression you leave.

So to dispute the potential of this article. There isn't much of a comparison. Zaviyeah HAS to be here, and will be gone without question after 2010. If he proves me wrong I'll be more than happy to eat crow. But I don't see it. Carl and company have already shown their cards.

So I don't really see X or CJ making such an impact on a team that has been through the fire together already. Self plays the winners, and the winners usually take at least a year to find their meddle in college. And I just don't believe X is that exceptional, no matter what dad says.

So, sorry Keeg party. But hey, I didn't give you THIS idea.

John Randall 10 years, 6 months ago

chicagoeddie -- You miss the boat badly, lumping Padgett with Downs. They have two things in common: transferred, pale complexions.

Downs transferred to seek minutes on the court.

Padgett was driven away from Mt Oread by cheap, snide, petty, vindictive Roy haters simply because he would have followed to UNC.

HC Bill Self did well by both of them - helping them find places to go on to fine careers with very good CBB programs, just (as you said) not NCAA championships.

No hatred or ridicule deserved in either case, though apologies to DP would show some class.

John Randall 10 years, 6 months ago

In fact, had our fan base treated David Padgett fairly, we might well have had another NCAA banner - certainly a FF hanging in AFH. The front line just wasn't there in '07 like it was in '08, and it could have been but we chased it away.

mjlindsm 10 years, 6 months ago

It wasn't just the guys over 6'3" that Rush was put on to stop. I remember being in the stands at Hilton, getting pissed that Iowa State was right there with us. Mike Taylor (who's with the Clippers now) was lighting up Chalmer's and Robinson. Then Self put Rush on him and it completely changed the game. Taylor started missing his shots. Then he tried to go around Rush and charged once or twice. Then, when Iowa State had a chance to tie or go ahead (I forget), Taylor started to drive, Rush picked his pocket, and took it to the other end for a dunk. The whole crowd got quiet enough that I think everyone could hear me scream "Go Rush!!"

I remember a similar situation when he was put on Jamal Tatum in the Sweet Sixteen against Southern Illinois. They were smart enough to set pick after pick on him, but it seemed to take so much out of them just trying to free Tatum from Rush that they weren't able to finish.

Both those guys are under 6'3".

jayhawkcsg 10 years, 6 months ago

Timely. Did you write this column from your couch?

suttonku 10 years, 6 months ago

this is yet another article that was released late...there is no new information in this article that we didnt know 2 weeks ago...but I dont think Tom should be fired because this is the first time this has really happened to him...but yes we got it the Henrys will fit in and we all accept im with the others wanting more info on the other freshmen

LAJayhawk 10 years, 6 months ago

"Brandon always had a GOOD attitude. Although he always wanted to be in the NBA, he didn't go around pouting and threatening to go to other schools if there was a chance he might not get his way every moment."

Great, neither has Xavier! Guess the comparisons keep going....

"Rush is one of the best players to ever come through in our storied history. I remember that many people, including myself, were very worried. He not only loved KU, but stuck around for three years."

I absolutely love Brandon Rush. He was a great Jayhawk and a champion. But lets not forget that if it wasn't for a ligament that angrily separated itself from... well... itself, then Brandon is not wearing Crimson and Blue for a third year, and there is about a 99% chance that no 2008 national championship banner floats above our heads in Allen Fieldhouse.

People want to bag on Xavier because, apparently, they look at him as selfish. There really is little to no evidence to support this (and I'm sorry but conjecture on hearsay is not legitimate evidence), and yet he gets attacked for hoping to make a lot of money playing a sport that he and all of us love.

Yeah. What an a-hole.

It might not hurt, however, to remember that almost every player in college basketball feels the same way. And if it wasn't for an unlucky break, the Great Brandon Rush would have just been that dude that played for KU for two years with a brother that played at mizzboo.


Of course, that unfortunate little ligament tear turned out to be the luckiest break (pun intended) in Mr. Rush's career.

And also for all of us die hard fanatics commenting on a basketball story in July....

JBERBERICH 10 years, 6 months ago

Keegan - you are an idiot - why even talk trash on Xavier?

Leave all that is well alone and do not try and start drama where none is needed.

let the brothers come in, play ball, and win us a championship


jeffmaher 10 years, 6 months ago

EJ and T Rob were at a clinic last night that I took my boys to. T Rob is officially my new favorite player. Dude has mad hops, a smile that never leaves his face and a great demeanor. He will wear number 0. That's right Gooden's number. He smiled a wry smile as if to say he will do us proud. Collins, Tyrel, and McMorris were there too. They put on a dunking exhibition which EJ did not join in on so I am wondering if he tweaked something???? Any thoughts.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 6 months ago


I certainly agree that Brandon needed another year, but it was pretty well understood that if he hadn't blown out his knee, he would have remained in the draft after his sophomore season. That's why I said the ligament tear actually turned out to be a blessing for him: he not only went on to win a national championship and carve his place as one of the legendary Jayhawks, but also was able to polish his game, become a lottery pick and a solid NBA player. Thus, the reason for my statement that it, ironically, turned out to be the "luckiest break" in his career.

As to Xavier, I agree that we need to wait and see him play at the D1 level to actually know how polished his game is at this point. Additionally, that same "wait and see" approach needs to be extended when discussing his attitude. It frustrates me to hear people call him selfish when they truly have nothing to base it on; much like the fact that we haven't seen him play in college yet, we also haven't seen his attitude in college either. It's all just conjecture. So instead of unfairly bagging on our new talented recruit (not you, of course, ralster, but those who are), perhaps we could just relax until he gets here, and we actually see what kind of man he really is.

And, ultimately, I believe that was Keegan's entire point.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 6 months ago


Don't know whether EJ tweaked anything, but:

"T Rob is officially my new favorite player. Dude has mad hops, a smile that never leaves his face and a great demeanor."

Totally agree. Many people are picking EJ as the the sleeper this year, but T Rob is my pick. I really like this kid's game. Can't wait to see more of it.

jeffmaher 10 years, 6 months ago


My son asked EJ to dunk and apparently he pulled up his shorts and showed a heavy brace on his knee so he must have recently hurt it. Haven't heard anything about it so it must be primarily precautionary. Back to T Rob when I asked Collins which Frosh has impressed him the most so far he pointed to Thomas. Collins and T Rob were both great with the kids too. I shot some video on my phone of the dunking exhibition- if I can figure out how to post it I will.

JayhawkCasey 10 years, 6 months ago

Jeffmaher, I don't remember what EJ did, but there was an article that stated what happened to it a few weeks back. He is out 4 to 6 weeks I think.

yovoy 10 years, 6 months ago

great article - not the most timely - but thanks for the reminder. i'm not just thanking keegan for myself. i'm doing it for others too involved in bashing him to do the same. you're welcome.

LAJayhawk 10 years, 6 months ago


Try sending it over to your computer via bluetooth. If you don't have BT, perhaps you could email to yourself. Then post it up on YouTube. If you do get it up, let me know. I'd love to see it.

Keith Kienzle 10 years, 6 months ago

Thanks for the TRob and EJ news guys. That made my day.

mjlindsm 10 years, 6 months ago

EJ tore his meniscus (knee cartilage). Relatively minor surgery, he'll be fine long before the season starts.

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