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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Taking care of business: Henry busy during his first day with Grizzlies

Newly drafted Memphis player and former Jayhawk Xavier Henry, right, jokes with Brandon Wheeler, 12, during a camp session Friday on the campus of Southwest Tennessee Community College in Memphis, Tenn.

Newly drafted Memphis player and former Jayhawk Xavier Henry, right, jokes with Brandon Wheeler, 12, during a camp session Friday on the campus of Southwest Tennessee Community College in Memphis, Tenn.

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photo

Mark Weber

Newly drafted Grizzlies teammates Xavier Henry, left, and Greivis Vasquez meet with the media on Friday afternoon at the FedEx Forum in Memphis, Tenn.

photo

Mark Weber

Newly drafted Memphis player Xavier Henry greets the media and fans during a news conference Friday afternoon at the FedEx Forum in Memphis.

NBA draft introduces Aldrich, Henry to new way of life

Both Cole Aldrich and Xavier Henry became millionaires overnight after being drafted to NBA teams.

— A millionaire at the age of 19, Xavier Henry already is working hard for his money.

The former Kansas University guard, who is ticketed to make $1,683,500 during the 2010-11 season following Thursday’s selection as 12th overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, had a busy first day on the job Friday.

In order, the 6-foot-6 Memphis Grizzlies guard ...

• appeared at a morning news conference with fellow first-round draft pick Greivis Vasquez of Maryland.

• held an online chat for the team’s official website.

• spoke at a camp for 7-to-14 year olds.

• worked out for Grizzlies’ coach Lionel Hollins.

• threw out the first pitch at the Memphis Redbirds’ minor-league baseball game.

“I feel great. I was supposed to be here a year ago, but got detoured to Kansas for a bit,” Henry told fans in the online chat. He originally signed a letter-of-intent with the University of Memphis out of Putnam City (Okla.) High School, quickly switching to KU after Tigers’ coach John Calipari bolted Memphis for Kentucky.

“I’m glad to be here and I’m looking to have a lot of fun while I’m here,” Henry added.

Henry, who started as a freshman in his only season at KU, is expected to be one of the first players off the bench his rookie season in Memphis. He’ll be spelling both O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay while playing both shooting guard and small forward.

“If I keep working hard and do the best I can on the court, I’ll get my opportunity,” Henry said at the news conference attended by his mom, Barbara.

Henry will debut for the Grizzlies in the Las Vegas NBA summer league July 12-18.

“First, I look forward to practicing with the guys,” Henry said. “It will be fun to play in the summer league to see the guys I just saw in the draft. I’m looking forward to playing basketball for my new team.”

Asked who is most looking forward to playing against, Henry said: “My teammates in practice — O.J., Rudy and those guys. O.J. was big when I was in (high) school. I’m looking forward to playing with great college players like Sam (Young) and Mike Conley. Those days in practice will be fun.”

Henry said, in retrospect, he had no idea he’d be selected by Memphis.

“Not a clue, but I was so excited. My mom was so excited she got teary eyed and then so did I. I am so happy to be here,” said Henry, who coach Hollins said appeared to be a more talented version of Shane Battier.

Former Maryland point guard Vasquez and Henry figure to become fast friends.

“I’m just excited to be here with my new little brother (Henry),” Vasquez, the 28th pick in the draft, told the Memphis Commercial Appeal . “It’s going to be fun. Just like he (Henry) said, all we have to do is work hard. If we work hard, we’ll be fine.”

Vasquez during the 2009 NCAA Tournament criticized the conference that the University of Memphis plays in. The Tigers of Conference USA beat his Terrapins, 89-70, to reach the regional semifinals, and the Maryland guard was reminded of those comments Friday.

“That was obviously a mistake,” Vasquez said to laughs. “I’m responsible. I don’t think I would do that again. ... I will go to the games and support. I don’t want the fans to be mad. I couldn’t even imagine ... If I’d known I was coming to Memphis, I would’ve never said that so it’s a learning process. That’s how I take it.

“I love the Tigers now, love them.”

Memphis finished 10th in the Western Conference and went into the offseason needing to add size and production off a bench that was last in the NBA in points production last season. The Grizzlies also were the league’s worst three-point shooting team in both attempts (1020) and made threes (344), finishing 26th with a 33.7 percentage shooting from beyond the arc.

“We’re trying to add people that enhance our team in every fashion, not just limited in one area. I know Xavier can shoot the ball. I know ‘G’ can shoot the ball, but they bring a whole lot more than just that isolated talent, and that’s what put them high on the list,” coach Hollins said.

Comments

jaybate 3 years, 10 months ago

Lebowski abiding,

Excellent take. I will love X and will get off the question of sand bagging. The kid did what he could do at that age.

And this raises an interesting question. What can a kid at this age do in the NBA?

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jaybate 3 years, 10 months ago

Lebowski abiding,

Excellent take. I will love X and will get off the question of sand bagging. The kid did what he could do at that age.

And this raises an interesting question. What can a kid at this age do in the NBA?

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Lebowski 3 years, 10 months ago

Jaybate... i think what we saw last year was:

1) Self's reluctance to put more than necessary on a freshman's shoulders.. 2) Henry showing us that he was a freshman.

I personally thought Henry wasn't bad at penetrating.. but it was just "the finish" that was real weak.. but it got a lot better late in the season. It also doesn't help a freshman's confidence when he goes through a horrendous shooting slump in the middle of the season.

So... "Or should his name go down as one of KU's potential greats the OAD rule stripped from KU early?" gets my vote..

What would we all think of danny manning had he left after his freshman year? He was in a different era, where STAYING was the norm and now he's the majority of KU fans' favorite Jayhawk ever. If Henry came back this year, you're looking at 20+ ppg and an AA selection as a sophomore. If Danny was a freshman in 2010, he'd probably have left and people would be saying the same things about him right now.

Xavier is one of the greatest "people" we've had come through Lawrence. He's emotional, he really cares, and he lets it show. The fact it's 2010 (and the league will give anyone with potential millions of dollars) doesn't change that in my book.

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Mike Kendall 3 years, 10 months ago

Some of the comments that X made did not offend me. I didn't take it that way like some others from Jayhawk Nation. Ralster-- I totally agree with you all the way--hope all three will have huge successes in the League. What will Cole do with his first paycheck? Spend it on his daddy? Anybody have any thoughts?

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jaybate 3 years, 10 months ago

lhohman3,

I trust you.

But that means a 6'6" guy with a 37" vertical couldn't get to the rim in D1.

And that implies sandbagging, or else one heck of a poor dribbler.

It also makes me ask: why wasn't KU alley-ooping to X 4 times a game the entire season? Was Self saving him for a championship game surprise weapon?

At 6'6" with a 37" vertical he should have been scoring 12 points a game just on jams and stick backs. Where @#$%^& was he?

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lhohman3 3 years, 10 months ago

Henry can jump, Jaybate. 37" verticle leap at combine, just one-half inch below Wesley Johnson, who was widely regarded as the best athlete available.

Seriously needs to improve lateral quickness. Of course, much the same was said of Rip Hamilton coming out of UConn, but his one special gift – knocking down mid-range jump shots from the time he falls out of bed in the morning to the final buzzer – has led to a decorated career.

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jaybate 3 years, 10 months ago

lighthawk,

Thanks for recalling Winslow and that game.

Kellen Winslow is the only player in any Missouri sport that had what it takes to be a Jayhawk. Winslow had the right stuff.

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Steve Brown 3 years, 10 months ago

what's a kellen winslow moment? If you saw this live like I did, you would know why it was the exception to never root for MU Tiger ever rule. Next to Frazier Ali and Affirmed Alaydar 300 Spartans (for real not the movie) & Defending the Alamo maybe the most 'want to' sports moment ever.

In a 1982 (1981 season) playoff game against the Miami Dolphins that became known as The Epic in Miami, Winslow caught a playoff record 13 passes for 166 yards and a touchdown, while also blocking a field goal with seconds remaining to send the game to overtime in one of the greatest single player efforts in NFL history. What made Winslow's performance all the more memorable was that fact during the game he was treated for a pinched nerve in his shoulder, dehydration, severe cramps, and received three stitches in his lower lip. After the game, a picture of Winslow being helped off the field by his teammates[3] became an enduring image in NFL Lore.

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jaybate 3 years, 10 months ago

"Questions about X: Effortless Greatness, or Sandbagging?"

Regarding Xavier, most seem to be dancing around the big questions.

Was Xavier sandbagging at KU to avoid injury, because he was sure to be drafted and get the big check, or he is just one of those players who looks effortless when he plays?

If X were sandbagging, was that a significant part of the reason KU's "special" team never became more than the sum of its parts?

Should his name go down in infamy in the KU legacy as Sandbag Henry?

Or should his name go down as one of KU's potential greats the OAD rule stripped from KU early?

Was he meticulously tutored to show only "enough" and to focus on developing a low-risk-of-injury skill, like, say, rebounding, to improve his desirability for drafting, during a half-assed effort given in a holding pattern in Lawrence?

Or was he a green young kid with a great stroke, who couldn't jump very well, couldn't get to the rim very well, played just-good-enough defense, and struggled with D1 defenders his height on both ends of the floor?

Was Xavier just trying to fit in harmoniously with an established team, or was he coasting all season to ensure he got to the pros without a draft jeopardizing injury?

I don't ever recall him leaving it all on the floor one time last season, but then there are some players that are so elegant and graceful that they never appear to leave it all there. Maybe he is one of them.

I can't answer the questons above. Probably no one can.

But X will answer them very clearly with his play in the L this coming season.

If he charges out of the blocks, becomes a force in pro ball, park his name on the infamy list for he surely cost us a ring.

If he struggles his first season, and takes a couple years to get it together, call him one of KU's potential greats taken early from us by the OAD rule.

It is going to be an answer worth watching.

If I had to vote right now, I would cast it this way: green young kid with a great stroke, who couldn't jump very well, couldn't get to the rim very well, played just-good-enough defense, and struggled with D1 defenders his height on both ends of the floor?

But I don't have to vote right now.

I get to wait and watch what he does this coming season in the L.

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cklarock 3 years, 10 months ago

Congratulations, Xavier. You'll always be a Jayhawk.

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William Blake 3 years, 10 months ago

I see a bright business future for X. He's a crowd pleaser and his public relations will be a winner.

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Ralster Jayhawk 3 years, 10 months ago

Easy to see that Xavier has to "schmooze" the Memphis crowd, since he jilted them, just like Calipari did. So I wont get tied-up in a knot over some 19yr old's choice of words as he tries to manage this touchy sidebar to his lottery success. KU people hopefully understand this nuance. No, we may not like feeling "used" by the whole 1-and-done facade, but I do understand why X said what he did. He had a bridge to repair...good for him, good for Memphis fans, and KU will be just fine.

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blackhawkjayhawk 3 years, 10 months ago

Nutflush: If that was the most ignorant comment you've ever read, then you must be about 4 years old. Crying at a press conference? Seriously? 10 years from now, he'll barely me a memory. One year doesn't make you a Jayhawk, just a guy on a detour.....

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Ralster Jayhawk 3 years, 10 months ago

Im still shocked at the recent revelation that X was driving the ball with the intensity of a 220-lb NBA body in recent workouts. More than a little disappointed if he was "holding back" while at KU, but then maybe he realized he was not the 'alpha' since Sherron wore that hat. Boy, we could have used our own version of Damion James--looks like X was fully capable of that. Anyway, I wish him well.

Cole in a great situation in OKC, Xavier in a good situation in Memphis where they need his all-around skills, and Sherron getting a shot with Larry Brown/Bobcats (MJ)...man, am I pulling for all these guys to make their big dream a success!

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Andy Hess 3 years, 10 months ago

Rudy Gay is a restricted free agent and is not expected to stay with the team, so Henry could very well be starting next year. come on, LJW.

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jayhawkinmullen 3 years, 10 months ago

Awww, Gary Coleman is back from the dead.

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ProudKansan 3 years, 10 months ago

"I was supposed to be here a year ago, but got detoured to Kansas for a bit.”

Nice...

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blackhawkjayhawk 3 years, 10 months ago

Who is Xavier Henry? Some guy that had a single, decent year at KU and then lost in the second round to Northern Iowa. The list of former KU players who have contributed far more to the program has to be at least 100 people long.

I don't blame Self for the state of college basketball, but I hope that KU never has to do this again.

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kcphantom 3 years, 10 months ago

"quickly switching to KU after Tigers’ coach John Calipari bolted Memphis for Kentucky"

Quickly switching? Which part of the entire process was quick?

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ParisHawk 3 years, 10 months ago

Please, let's not get upset over the "I got detoured to Kansas for a bit" line. X is just trying to please the new crowd. I would rather hear him doing a bit of spin than apologizing for an imprudent remark as his new teammate is doing.

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