Henry Should Be All Smiles

Xavier Henry has reportedly been quite impressive during workouts with NBA teams. That success, combined with his fine freshman season at Kansas, could pay big dividends during the NBA Draft Thursday night at Madison Square Garden in New York.

"I'd say he's probably in the 11 to 17 range (of the first round)," one NBA scout said. "I could see Milwaukee (No. 15) or Chicago (No. 17) taking him, possibly as high as New Orleans at 11."

"Scout" thinks the 6-6 swingman can make an impact as a rookie "if he gets on a team that has some guys that can create some offense for him. If you put him in New Orleans with Chris Paul, I think he's going to get some pretty easy looks. Or if you put him with Dwight Howard or somebody like that in Orlando he's going to get some pretty good looks at the basket and he's going to knock some shots down."

While Scout doesn't think Xavier Henry is a future NBA star, he believes he's a fine prospect.

"He had a very solid freshman year on a really, really good team," Scout said of KU's second-leading scorer at 13.4 points per game. "I think he's the type of player who needs better players around him to get shots because he's not great with the ball. He's not going to turn it over, but he's not going to try to do a whole lot but catch and shoot. He grades out as one of the better shooters in the draft. He shot 41 percent (41.8) I believe from the three, which is excellent, especially for a freshman. I think if you put him with a really good point guard or really dominant low post big man, I think he could really help you because he can space the floor for them, give them room to do some things. And you just got to honor him and be aware of where he's at on the floor at all times.

"Defensively, he's a pretty smart defender. Fairly high steals guy. He's usually in good position. He's got a good physical frame. He reminds me a little bit of a guy like Morris Peterson (New Orleans Hornets guard). You know he's good enough so you can put him on the floor against most teams. He's going to give you a little offensive punch and he's not going to hurt you defensively."

Some critics have labeled Henry a bit soft. Scout that that assessment is unfair.

"I wouldn't say he's soft," Scout said. "I just don't think he's really aggressive on a consistent basis. I wouldn't necessarily term it soft, as I would passive at times. I think that can sometimes be mistaken for being soft. And I don't think he's soft. I think he's a pretty tough physical kid. He's just very unselfish, lets the game come to him and stays within the framework of the team."

Scout said Henry must improve his ball-handling and ability to create his own shot to elevate his game at the NBA level.

"I wouldn't say that's a strength of his game," Scout said. "I would think if there's one thing offensively that people could really knock him for is his ability to do that. I think he's a good athlete, not a great NBA athlete. I think that would be the two areas where he's got some room to improve, room to grow."

While Henry may be a lottery selection, Scout said he could have benefited from another year at Kansas.

"Yeah, I always think kids like that, especially if you're playing in such a good program like Kansas, another year playing under coach (Bill) Self would help him," Scout said. "Especially if he ends up on a really good team which is a playoff team and he's not playing. His development would have probably been better getting 30 minutes a night playing at KU."

Still, Scout believes Henry will "have a long (NBA) career. I think if he can develop his ball-handling skills, he can be a starter down the road. Initially, he's going to be a guy that comes off the bench and provides some shooting. And if his game expands a little bit and he becomes a better ball-handler and play him in some pick and roll situations, I think he can be a starting two guard in our league."

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