Xavier Henry an impact freshman for No. 1 Kansas

Inside college basketball

'Other' freshman has 17.7 average for No. 1 Kansas

December 22, 2009|By Shannon Ryan

You've heard about this freshman leading one of the best teams in the nation, right?

No, not Kentucky's John Wall.

While nobody can argue about Wall's impact, nobody who has seen No. 1 Kansas would underestimate Xavier Henry's impact.

Not that Henry wants to go anywhere near talk of a rookie-of-the-year duel. He's just happy to be exceeding expectations with the Jayhawks.

"Everything is pressure," Henry, a 6-foot-6 wing, said Saturday after scoring 15 points in a victory against Michigan. "I put pressure on myself to play good. Outside pressure, it doesn't do anything."

Henry, whose basketball family tree is firmly rooted in Lawrence, Kan. - both of his parents played at Kansas in the 1980s, and his older brother, C.J., is a redshirt freshman guard - leads the Jayhawks with 17.7 points per game and shoots 53.5 percent from the field. The impressive numbers are especially remarkable given the Jayhawks' depth.

Wall averages 18 points and shoots 52.2 percent for the No. 3 Wildcats.

While Kansas and Kentucky don't play during the regular season, basketball junkies can't help imagining a Final Four showdown.

Asked about games he's excited to play this season, Henry answered Oklahoma because he's from Oklahoma City.

Swish of the week: Mike Gerrity, USC. So this is what a rusty player looks like? Gerrity, a transfer from Charlotte via Pepperdine, received an NCAA waiver one day before showing up Tennessee with 12 points and 10 assists in the Trojans' upset victory. Maybe there's something to not being on a scouting report.

Gerrity won't be a surprise anymore, but he looked good enough handling the ball to continue making a difference for the Trojans, who desperately need him.

Brick of the week: Anthony Tucker, Iowa, and Royce White, Minnesota. Tucker got another chance at Iowa - and blew it. He pleaded guilty to public intoxication last December and a month later was ruled academically ineligible. The 20-year-old sophomore now has been suspended indefinitely after recently being charged with public intoxication.

The Hawkeyes need Tucker, their second-leading scorer, on the court. But how many more chances can they give him?

White was a prized recruit, but legal matters involving an alleged laptop theft kept him off the court. Emily Post probably would say that announcing the decision to leave Minnesota via YouTube is not the proper way to say goodbye.

Game of the week: Michigan State at Texas, 7 p.m. Tuesday. The Longhorns can take down the entire 2009 national championship game. After beating North Carolina on Saturday in Arlington, Texas gets a crack at the Spartans in Austin.

sryan@tribune.com

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