"Just be ready for next year"

Warr Acres, Okla. – With all of the media fervor that has surrounded Xavier Henry for the past three weeks, it is perhaps fitting that he picked his college destination – for the second time – with as little fanfare as possible.

On Thursday morning, the 6-foot-6 McDonald's All-American walked into the gymnasium at Putnam City (Okla.) High School, sat down next to his mom, Barbara, and delivered the only statement he had prepared:

"Next year, I'll be taking my game to Kansas," Xavier Henry said. "And that's all I wanted to say."

In an age where the nation's top high school basketball recruits have become bona fide celebrities, the Henry family – including Xavier, Barbara, older brother C.J., and father Carl – thought that they were done with this process.

C.J., a former Kansas commitment himself, was in the midst of his freshman year at the University of Memphis when Xavier decided that the chance to play with him was too good to pass up, formally committing to the Tigers on November 18.

When Memphis head coach John Calipari left the Tigers to helm the University of Kentucky on March 31, however, Xavier and CJ were both forced to re-examine their situation.

"It's the recruiting process all over again," Barbara said. "But we were fortunate in the fact that he had narrowed it down before, and wasn't going to be open to everybody. He already had a couple of schools in mind that he would really love to play for, and so it made it a little easier. But the time frame was so short it was stressful."

One of the constants throughout her youngest son's recruitment, she noted, had been a bona-fide love for the University of Kansas.  

"He's always loved Kansas, that's one thing," she said. "And the pull to Memphis and that decision was his brother. He wanted the opportunity to play at Kansas, and things happen for a reason."

After a family discussion earlier this week, Xavier knew he was ready to make his decision, informing Jayhawks head coach Bill Self on Tuesday.

"He asked me ‘Are you positive, are you sure you're coming?' because he didn't want me to be joking with him or change my mind or anything," he said, of Self's reaction to the news. "So he just wanted to make sure that I was being serious about coming."

Though he wouldn't speak for his brother, it is assumed that CJ will follow him to KU's campus this summer. Recently, CJ opted to transfer from the University of Memphis, and Xavier said that his understanding was that CJ would be able to play immediately at whatever school he chose.

Though Kansas fans may not be as familiar with his brother's game, Xavier said that they were in for a pleasant surprise.

"CJ is an explosive scorer just like me," he said. "He's a little shorter, a little stronger, and just as quick. He's a real good player."

"He wanted CJ to be able to announce on his own," Barbara later added, of Xavier's reluctance to announce that his brother would come with him to KU. "They're really close as brothers. He was trying to get him on the phone so he could hear and everything."

As to what's next, Xavier couldn't say. For now, for a kid who has spent weeks jetting around the country to various all-star games and camps, he's looking forward to finishing his high school career in novel fashion – not as a superstar athlete, but as a normal teenager.

With the return of Cole Aldrich and Sherron Collins, however, Henry knows expectations will be flying high in Lawrence next year. And honestly, he wouldn't have it any other way.

"Just be ready for next year," Henry said, as a message to Jayhawk fans. "We're going to come up there, have a lot of fun, and hopefully win it all."

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