Xavier Henry has had to fight and claw his way back from various injuries throughout his basketball career, both as a collegiate standout and a professional. But again and again, he seems to conquer and get to where he wants and needs to be. Currently gunning for the NBA once again after suffering a ruptured left achilles tendon at the beginning of the 2014-15 season, Henry's journey has since led him to the Santa Cruz Warriors.
Playing in The Association from 2010-2014, Henry displayed impressive athleticism and intriguing upside. As such, it makes that the Golden State Warriors wanted to take a chance on him, all the while aiding and examining his rehab along the way. Finally hitting the minor league hardwood back in February, the swingman has since averaged 16.2 points on 47% from the field.
Henry appears to be hitting his stride as of late, but anyone who knows anything about the D-League understands full well big league executives are on the prowl for potential X-Factors, much more so than those who can pour in the points. Today's present NBA stars already have that ability.
Luckily for Henry, he's used to making adjustments and ensuring his impact is felt in other ways.
Providing an unique and versatile presence is something the 25 year old has had to do his entire career, dating back to his freshman (and lone) campaign at Kansas in 2009-10. Though Henry was an efficient scorer, he wasn't necessarily always recognized as the clear-cut go-to-guy. Playing alongside future NBA players like Markieff and Marcus Morris and Thomas Robinson, that makes sense. Nevertheless, Henry saw ways to add value. After all, Kansas recruited him for a reason.
"I just did what I've always aimed to do. I played hard, came out with energy, and sort of just let the game come to me," he told RidiculousUpside.com. "We had a lot of talent, but I just knew if I did everything the best I could, I'd stand out."
And though he's somewhat far removed from his college days, and what he's gone through since might make it seem like even more than a lifetime ago, Henry still clearly reflects fondly on his time there. It had a great influence on the player he is today, he said.
"It was a great time. I made great friends and appreciated how I was able to grow into a basketball player. I was bummed we lost back in the second round," he added. "But I had a chance to play alongside a lot of future NBA players; guys who really helped frame my game at the young age of 18."
That said, what comes next for Henry?
"I'm not sure about NBA Summer League. I'm focused on getting my body right, maybe do a few private workouts with teams. I might play Summer League, but right now, it's about getting better, quicker, faster, and stronger," he explained.
In the midst of March Madness this month, even those who have since moved on to greener pastures can still feel pride in how their squad is doing. There's no doubt Henry is proud to call Kansas (who advanced to the Elite Eight with another victory on Thursday night) his old stomping grounds.
"My entire family played at Kansas, so we have really close ties to everyone there. I love Coach [Bill] Self and still keep up with the guys there," he said.
As he continues to climb the ladder and aim for a successful comeback, Henry can only hope to make them proud once again.