The Curious Case of Xavier Henry (from a Kansas Fan!)

(I asked co-newest RU contributor, and Kansas super fan, fetch9 to explain why I shouldn't give the Clippers Xavier Henry in my first mock draft of the season.  He responds.  I guess that pick will have to change for next Monday, huh? -- Scott)

Xavier Henry's college career was somewhat of a roller coaster. After originally committing to Memphis to play alongside his brother CJ, Henry ended up committing to Kansas after John Calipari went to Kentucky. Despite some distractions in the summer and in the fall, most notably involving his father, Henry's Kansas career got off to a great start, scoring 27 points in his debut, the most by a Freshman in his first game in Kansas history.

Still, though Henry came in expected to be the third big cog (along with Sherron Collins and Cole Aldrich) that would lead Kansas to a national title, he faded into the background by relying on his jumpshooting rather than attacking the rim.  Of course, his jumpshot was very good, as he shot 41.8% from three as a Freshman.

Although Henry faded into the background during much of his time at Kansas, he can't really be faulted too much.

Sherron Collins was the undisputed leader of the team, followed closely by Cole Aldrich. Still, Henry didn't just defer to those two, he deferred to the likes of Brady Morningstar and Tyrel Reed.  In fact, Morningstar ended up getting more crunch time minutes than Henry because Henry basically hit a wall during the Big 12 season.  Henry was 2nd on the team in minutes played, but not many of those minutes were in crunch time, especially during the first part of the Big 12 conference season. Still, it seemed like he never adjusted his play.

The 6-foot-6 forward endured a 14 game shooting slump where he shot just 34.6% from the field and 29.7% from three. He also turned it over roughly three times per game in that stretch - no small feat when you consider how little he actually handled the ball. Henry did, however, make great strides on the defensive end of the floor, leading the team in steals.  He was also a pretty good defensive rebounder (11.7%), though he did poorly on the offensive glass which would support the "he didn't attack the rim" mentality.

In the end, the thing Kansas fans were displeased about the most from Henry wasn't his ability, it was his temperament.

Granted, as an outsider I have no true perspective on his work ethic, but you could see the effort that Collins, Alrich and the Morris twins put in every game. That look was often absent from Henry. This could be because he is a graceful athlete, or it could be because he is the only one-and-done in Kansas history, so he has less of a connection with us Jayhawk fans. I have to say, as much as I thought he was overrated (as a college player), John Wall played every game with tremendous emotion and treated putting on a Kentucky jersey like it was a enormous privilege, even though he was a one and done. Henry (not always, but certainly at times) instead seemed to treat Kansas as a pit stop to the NBA and made it seem like Kansas should feel lucky he decided to play there.

I don't think Henry will be a bust, but I am very bearish on his NBA prospects. He is a very good jumpshooter, but doesn't get a ton of lift with his shot, and he doesn't have very good hops around the basket either. Not that he'll get to the basket very often because he doesn't have a quick first step, nor does he have the ability to use his right hand as anything other than a "show me" move.

I will say that, in college, he had a pretty cerebral game considering he was only 18 while showing a knack for finding the open man when his rare drives to the basket were stalled.

Still, unless Henry is fairly wide open I doubt his ability to get off many three pointers - nor do I think he has the athleticism to drive to the basket or to guard any offensive players of consequence in the NBA. He'll go in the first round, but I don't think he should be a lottery pick.

Hopefully none of my fellow Kansas fans see this.

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