OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - John Calipari's move to Kentucky has cost
him one of his prized recruits.
Oklahoma City high school star Xavier Henry announced Thursday
that he would not follow Calipari after he left Memphis, and
committed instead to play at Kansas.
"I've always loved Kansas, I've always watched them and it's
always been a dream school for me," said Henry, who is considered
the third-rated prospect in the country by both Rivals.com and
In reversing course, Henry fell in line with family tradition.
His parents, Carl and Barbara, both played basketball for the
Jayhawks and his brother, C.J., originally committed to Kansas
before he decided to pursue baseball after being a first-round pick
by the New York Yankees.
Big brother ended up playing a role in Xavier's decision, too.
With his education being paid for by the Yankees, C.J. walked on at
Memphis and redshirted last season. Xavier was going to follow him
until Calipari replaced the fired Billy Gillispie at Kentucky.
The Henrys believe that C.J. will be allowed to transfer to
Kansas - which beat Memphis in the 2008 national championship game
- and not sit out another season because he is not on scholarship.
"I've always dreamed of going to Kansas and I've always wanted
to, but I took a step back for my brother at Memphis, and now that
he's cleared to play anywhere, I'll get my chance to play at
Kansas," Xavier Henry said.
Xavier Henry, a 6-foot-3 shooting guard, averaged 28.3 points
and 6.5 rebounds . He shot 44 percent from 3-point range last
season in leading Putnam City High School to the state title in the
class that features Oklahoma's largest schools.
Putnam City also won the Class 6A title in Henry's freshman
year, just after C.J. had moved on.
"Me and my brother, there's no separating us. I'd do anything
for my brother," Xavier Henry said. "That's why I was going to go
to college with him even if I wasn't into it as much as Kansas. I
just wanted to be with my brother, and I want to spend as much time
as I can with him."
He chose not to follow in the footsteps of DeMarcus Cousins,
another top 5 prospect who followed Calipari from Memphis to
"It was tempting just because of (Calipari)," Xavier Henry
said. "Me and my brother, I don't think we ever really followed
Kentucky. We knew about the tradition, but we never actually
followed them. Kentucky wasn't that much of a pull, but coach Cal
was a big pull for us."
Once the combination of his brother, Calipari and a stocked
roster at Memphis disintegrated, the attraction of following in his
parents' footsteps was automatic for Xavier - and C.J. was on
"I'm not really following him," C.J. Henry told reporters by
phone. "We just wanted to play together."
Xavier Henry becomes the highest-ranked prospect Bill Self has
recruited since becoming head coach at Kansas in 2003, and he adds
to a freshman class that already was ranked among the best in the
country. With top players Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich also
putting off a jump to the NBA to keep the Jayhawks' starting five
in tact from a run to the NCAA tournament round of 16, Kansas
becomes a front-runner for the national championship next season.
"I don't know how good we're going to be, but I think we're
going to be pretty good," Xavier Henry said. "If everything falls
in to place - no injuries and stuff - we have a chance to win it
Barbara Henry said she was confident C.J. would be allowed to
play next season, and she's tickled that her sons will be together
at her alma mater.
"I think it's great. I know Xavier's heart was with Kansas as
well when he chose Memphis," she said. "It was just that ... he
wanted the opportunity to play with his brother for once in his
life. He's always loved Kansas, so to me it's no surprise."
One decision that will have to wait is whether Xavier Henry's
first season at Kansas also will be his last before heading to the
"If it happens, it happens, but I just want to concentrate on
winning the national championship next year," Xavier Henry said.
"There's nothing more I like than winning, and winning the right
way. I want to try my hardest to win and help my team win."