Henry Dealing With Expectations

When you are universally ranked among the top five recruits in your class there are expectations everywhere you turn. Considering he first appeared on the national radar before playing a game of high school basketball, those expectations are something that six-foot-six inch junior Xavier Henry has become all too familiar with.

The fact of the matter is that each and every time the southpaw guard from Oklahoma City (OK) Putnam City takes the court there will be plenty of eyes trained on him. Whether they be the eyes of coaches, scouts or the fans who follow his every move on the internet, it’s something that Henry is aware of.

While he doesn’t want to disappoint, he has his priorities.

“I don’t want to go a camp like the New York all star game (Boost Mobile Elite 24) and have people say I’m a ball hog or anything like that. I want people to see that I have an all around game,” says Henry about the attention he gets. “I’m not even really high on keeping track of all the rankings and all of that. I know at the end of the day it only matters what the coaches think so I try to keep that in mind.”

Still, he admits that he does take an occasional glance at the Internet stories and chat boards to see what people are saying. At times, he even allows himself a little satisfaction in regards to the level he’s taken his game to and the recognition he’s received.

“It feels like all of the work is paying off and that the work I’ve done for now is worth it,” Henry told Phog.Net. “Once I get to college it’s going to start all over and I’m going to have to reprove myself and do it all again.”

His dangerous jumper, ability to score in the paint and terrific size for a two guard have been major reasons for Henry’s success. However, he’s also careful to make sure that all of the attention doesn’t get to his head and that he has as normal a social life as possible.

“Basically all my teammates and my friends, none of us act like we’re the best players in the world or anything like that,” said Henry of how he keeps things regular. “When we’re together we try to keep it loose and have fun. We’re all pretty low key so that keeps us straight.”

Heavily recruited by schools across the country, the 16 year old has already cut his list down to a group of six that includes Arizona, Kansas, Memphis, North Carolina, Ohio State and Texas. Of course, the inclusion of Kansas only adds to the expectations people have of him.

After all, both his mother and father played basketball at Kansas and his older brother CJ signed a letter of intent to play for Bill Self before choosing to pursue baseball as a first round pick of the New York Yankees in the 2005 draft. Sure enough, Henry has Kansas very high on his list as well, but he’s quick to point out that he’s not going to pick Kansas, or any other school, just because it’s what he’s expected by so many to do.

“I don’t like Kansas for any other particular reason than I like Kansas. Not for my family or everybody who thinks I’m going there, but for me,” said Henry of Kansas. “In Oklahoma and Kansas everybody just assumes I’m a Kansas lock but it’s too early to say I’m a lock for anywhere. Even if I was, I wouldn’t want anybody to know so that I’d have room to change my mind.”

Another expectation is that Henry will ultimately play college hoops with his older brother. Playing the situation close to his vest, the younger brother says that it’s something that he and his brother haven’t spent much time talking about and that he’s more worried about backyard bragging rights for the moment.

“We haven’t talked about it at all really,” said Henry of playing with his older brother CJ. “We’re really not trying to have pressure on me to go to the same school as him or him to go to the same school as me. It’s about finding the school that fits me or him best first and then if it works out that’s great.

“Every once in a while we play one on one and I’ve won like the last three times. I probably won’t play him again for a while so that I can hold it over him.”

Of course, Henry has his own expectations as well. He’d love to one day play in the NBA -- although he says he’s focusing on college first and hasn’t even thought about a potential early exit from the college ranks -- and he wants to retain his status as one of the elite players in the class of 2009.

It’s also important to him that he arm himself with as much information about the schools recruiting him as possible. He’s been to Kansas several times and will be back this season, he’s working to reschedule a twice canceled visit to Texas, has plans to attend Midnight Madness at Memphis and is planning jaunts to Arizona and UNC for games this winter. All things being equal, there’s one area in particular that could ultimately sway him to one program or another.

“Relationships with the coaches and the players that are there and the players that are coming in with me are going to be really important,” said Henry. “It’s about more than just playing basketball.”

Xavier Henry Scout.com Profile


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