We know what Carl Henry thinks of his son C.J.’s game. Carl said he thinks Sherron Collins and Tyshawn Taylor are good basketball players, but not any better than C.J.
“You said my dad said that?” C.J. asked Tuesday afternoon.
“Oh, my dad’s a little outspoken sometimes,” C.J. said. “If you get him riled up the right way, he’ll probably say anything. I think that was just him. He was seeing how hard we were working. We were in there four hours a day, in a gym with no air conditioning, about to pass out.”
OK, so was Carl right?
“Shoot, I hope we’re all on the same level,” C.J. said. “We’re all on the same team. I hope we can all work together and win a national championship.”
He didn’t run from sharing his father’s opinion, which is fine. Confidence is not a bad thing. The truth is, though, nobody knows how good C.J. Henry will be this year. He’s 23 and hasn’t played competitive basketball since high school. He signed with the New York Yankees as a first-round bonus baby, battled injuries and strikeout woes, attended Memphis for a season with the intention of playing basketball, but was too injured to suit up.
He hasn’t played college basketball, but he saw enough in practice at Memphis to form an opinion.
“College talent is really down to me, really,” C.J. said. “It’s you have a couple guys that can do one thing, but their basic skills aren’t there. You’ve got a guy who can shoot, but he can’t dribble. Or he can dribble, but he can’t shoot. There are holes in people’s games. I’ve been surprised since I’ve been in college how much kids — excuse me, kids (laughs at his use of that term) — how much players don’t work on their games. In college, there are only a few who work on their games and try to improve themselves, and that’s why there are only a few who make it. That’s why you have to approach it as a business and be professional about it if you want to play at the highest level.”
And what holes must C.J. work on?
“I can do all the basics, the fundamentals,” he said. “I have those. I can shoot, pass, dribble. There won’t be any big holes. You won’t be able to point the finger and say, ‘He can’t do this, he can’t do that.’ Just expect somebody to play hard, get some buckets, have some fun, get some wins.”
Surely, though, rust must be removed.
“I think it would be just getting back into the rhythm, coming off screens and shooting,” he said. “... Just conditioning would be the main thing.”
As for the social adjustment, C.J. might not face some of the same insecurities as new students in town for the first time. He signed a $1.6 million bonus, drives a Range Rover and lives in an off-campus apartment. I asked if he worries he will have trouble getting a date.
“No, I don’t need any,” he said. “My place has a garage so I’m parking on the inside so nobody will know where I stay. I’m going to be friendly and open with the people, so if you see me, say hello. I’m a friendly guy, social. But I’m here just to play basketball. ... I’m 23 now. I’m an adult, so I’m only here for one thing. Win games. That’s it and then take care of school work. Everything else is nothing to me. I’m here to go to school, play basketball. That’s it.”