Xavier Henry Has His Fun

Putnam City (OK) guard Xavier Henry might be one of the most talented players in the class of 2009, but he's also one of the most likable and grounded players on the summer circuit.

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 the dunk.

"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 cameraman"

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," said Henry. "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 basketball."

Xavier Henry Highlights:

This story also published on Phog.net, the Kansas site on the Scout.com Network.

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