Last weekend Xavier Henry made a return to the spot where one of the most notorious moments of last year’s club basketball season went down. It was on court three at Ensworth High School in Nashville where Henry was caught underneath the rim as Oklahoma freshman to be Willie Warren threw down a dunk that became an instant sensation on youtube.com.
That dunk, however, and Henry’s reaction to it is a perfect
example of just how different Henry -- who is generally considered
among the top three prospects in the class of 2009 -- is. Unlike many
highly recruited prospects who carry themselves with a sense of
entitlement, the six-foot-six shooting guard from Warr Acres (OK)
Putnam City carries himself with a smile and affable personality that
makes it impossible to dislike him.
Just as he did at the time, Henry smiled and laughed when prodded about
“Didn’t even think about it,” laughed
Henry as teammates pointed to the hoop in the background.
“Just one or two people brought it up, like the
That’s the thing about Henry, he’s so at ease with
himself and who he is as a player and a person that he’s
willing to have fun in any situation. Opponents try to get under the
lefty’s skin by trash-talking him and he responds with a
smile. Reporter after reporter waits to speak with him and he greats
them all with a smile and a hearty handshake.
You see, even after operating in a basketball fishbowl since he was in
the 8th grade, the game and everything that comes with it for the young
star is still a bunch of fun.
“It’s still fun for me,” said Henry of
the attention and playing high level basketball. ”Well
it’s not as much fun when my ankle hurts, but it’s
still fun. I just really like playing a lot.”
In regards to his still less than healthy ankle, nobody would begrudge
the chess playing sharpshooter for taking more time off. He thought
about it, but the lure of playing and winning the title at
Nike’s Memorial Day Classic was too much for him to resist.
“I’m not even fully back yet. I just wanted to come
out and win this tournament. I’m like 80% right now, I have
no explosiveness at all,” Henry told Phog.Net. “I
don’t like watching my team play if I can’t.
They’d lost like five games without me and I’ve
never liked that so it made me really want to play.”
As much as the attention and traveling around the country to play the
nation’s best high school hoopers is still fun, Henry does
admit that he’s starting to feel some pressure. That pressure
comes from the fact that he knows he’ll have to pick a school
from his four finalists of Kansas, Memphis, Texas and UCLA sometime in
the near future.
“Now it is getting into a pressure situation because I have
to pick a school pretty soon, but I think it will be
alright,” said Henry. “I could wait until the
spring, but I think I’ll do it in the fall.”
Not surprisingly, Henry points to his relationship with each
school’s head coach as something that will be of extreme
importance in picking a program.
“That’s the man, so you’ve got to try and
get in with them. You can’t do anything else until you have
that relationship with the coach,” said Henry.
“It’s just about me being comfortable where
I’m going. The coaches are really important but
it’s going to be an all-around thing.”
Finally, Henry is confident that he’ll be able to keep his
bright outlook and personality as he continues to move up the
basketball chain. His family helps, but more than anything
it’s just his nature and where he’s from
that’s made him into an ego free high school star.
“They just keep me down to Earth. I’ve always been
down to Earth anyway so it probably isn’t that
hard,” says Henry with his trademark grin.
“We’re from Oklahoma, there isn’t
anything big, there isn’t anything that small.
We’re just out there and we like to play
Henry Has His Fun
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