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Archive for Monday, April 5, 2010

What’s the rush? What makes Henry NBA-ready if Rush wasn’t?

Physically and statistically, Xavier Henry, left, and Brandon Rush cut similar figures as freshmen on Kansas University’s basketball team. Yet the consensus is that Henry is a one-and-done, while Rush was considered not ready to go pro after his freshman year. What gives?

Physically and statistically, Xavier Henry, left, and Brandon Rush cut similar figures as freshmen on Kansas University’s basketball team. Yet the consensus is that Henry is a one-and-done, while Rush was considered not ready to go pro after his freshman year. What gives?

April 5, 2010

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Three of life’s mysteries I’ll never understand, no matter how long I contemplate them.

  1. Why do we park on a driveway and drive on a parkway?
  2. Why does Hawaii have interstate highways?
  3. Why is Xavier Henry ready for the NBA if Brandon Rush was not after his freshman season?

Puzzling questions, all of them.

Before comparing the NBA-readiness of the basketball players, first consider them as people. As a freshman, Rush was one year and eight months older than Henry. Rush had a more worldly air to him than Henry, a young man who seems in so many ways to have a pure innocence about him still.

Know this about NBA veterans at the end of benches: They want to extend their careers as long as possible because the money is unbelievable. Some of them don’t want rookies to succeed, and they treat them like garbage. Henry just turned 19 two days after Kansas University won the Big 12 Conference tournament. In many good ways, he seems every bit that young.

As basketball players, Rush the freshman and Henry share more similarities than differences. Both essentially are one-handed dribblers. Rush’s game leaned farther to the right than Sean Hannity, Henry’s is more left-winged than Keith Olbermann.

Both players stand 6-foot-6 and have long arms that come in handy defensively. Henry has greater anticipation skills and is more clever playing the passing lanes. Rush has much quicker feet and was so good defensively he developed into a stopper as a freshman. He was the leading scorer on a team that won the Big 12 regular-season and conference tournament titles despite starting three freshmen and two sophomores.

Both players have strong leaping ability, though Rush is more explosive.

The obvious advantage Henry has on Rush is in the physique department. The go-to move for those who express the opinion that Henry is one-and-done ready is that he already has an NBA body. No argument there, but it’s not as if Rush as a freshman was as thin as Butler post player Matt Howard’s mustache.

The next place advocates of Henry bolting to the NBA go to is his jump shot. The Web site nbadraft.net, which projects Henry as the 10th selection, says, “Pure stroke with a quick, smooth release. No hitches.”

Disagree. Better description: Accurate, though streaky, stroke with a slow release and a hitch. Rush, also a better passer than Henry, gets more elevation on his jumper, and his form comes straight out of a West Point basketball text book.

Henry’s youth compared to Rush’s means it’s logical to project more improvement from Henry, but how much more?

Rush averaged 13.5 points, 5.9 rebounds and two assists in 31.7 minutes as a freshman. Henry averaged 13.4 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists. Rush made 47.2 percent of his three-point shots, Henry 41.8 percent of his.

What am I missing? Why are scouts supposedly so fired up about his NBA prospects?

“I think it’s his body and the poise with which he plays,” said Philadelphia-based Jim Clibanoff, who counts roughly half of the NBA teams as subscribers to his scouting service, Clip Hoops.

Scouts employed by NBA teams are not allowed to talk about players to the press. Clibanoff, an independent contractor not bound by any gag order, can let it fly.

“He started the season out playing well, and people assumed he was one of the top three or top whatever freshmen, and then I don’t want to say he hit a wall, but whatever he hit, he hit it pretty hard,” Clibanoff said. “He had a bunch of steam behind him, and I’m not so sure he’s got so much behind him now.”

From memory, Clibanoff accurately rattled off the numbers from Henry’s eight-game shooting slump that coincided with the beginning of Big 12 play. He shot 29 percent overall and 27 percent from three-point range during that stretch.

Clibanoff said he likes Henry’s size, poise and feel for the game, but questions other aspects of his potential.

“He’s not an elite athlete,” Clibanoff said. “He’s not regularly an above-the-rim guy. By NBA 2-guard standards, his athleticism is not special. He’s not overly aggressive, averaged only four rebounds a game and is a decent defender, but needs to be more of a factor on that end of the floor.”

Don’t look for that annoying and redundant draft cliché “upside potential” to be uttered about Henry much during television coverage of the draft, should he, as expected, announce his intentions to make himself eligible.

“Guys they say that about are run-and-jump guys who don’t have the skill component,” Clibanoff said. “He already has the skill. He was very good as a freshman. I’m not sure he’ll continue to get progressively much better.”

The order of the 14 teams with the best draft position is determined by a weighted lottery. The system was put in place so as to remove the incentive for bad teams to tank in hopes of getting the top pick. The term “lottery pick” has evolved as the ultimate status symbol for prospects.

“I can’t say with certainty that he’s a lottery pick,” Clibanoff said.

Henry was groomed by his father, former Kansas basketball player Carl Henry, to become a one-and-done star. It would take a man to stand up to a father who has done as much for Xavier in the way of preparing him for a professional basketball career as Carl has done.

Herein lies the Catch-22: It also would take a man to be ready to face all the negative forces he’ll confront in the NBA. Here’s my fear: As do most teenagers, Xavier still has a lot of child in him, too much to be able to stand up to his father and too much to be ready for the culture shock of joining the NBA.

Kansas will reload just fine either way. Don’t worry about Bill Self’s roster. It’s Henry that worries me. I fear he’s going to go to the NBA and just don’t get the feeling he’s quite ready.

Comments

Jeff Barclay 4 years, 6 months ago

Without question I totally agree, except for the $ it makes no sense. KU would have done as well as they did, with or without Henry this season.

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rtwngr 4 years, 6 months ago

There were times this season that the 'Hawks were better with Henry on the bench. He's not ready but that won't stop his father from sending him to the NBA. I wish him the best, though.

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CLARKKENT 4 years, 6 months ago

MR. RUSH WAS NOT READY, MR. HENRY IS NOT READY.

IF XAVIER'S DAD NEEDS THE MONEY THAT BAD, GET A BETTER, OR JUST GET A JOB.

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ssakcaj 4 years, 6 months ago

I said it earlier on another thread, Cole had accomplished everything he could at the college level the only thing left were a couple of minor notes on his resume, the block record from Ostertag and another ring. The block record is his, he tied Ostertag in three years. The second ring although nice, eh...

Henry on the other hand is a completely different story. I like the comment I read from one of the player's on a team that won the championship the year after he left to go pro. He said you never get that time back, the NBA will always be there, that pile of cash will always be there. To be a college player and win a championship is something if you are very lucky, you get once in a lifetime. He said he would have traded the money he made to have been back on that team in a heartbeat.

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WhiteDog 4 years, 6 months ago

I think the question should be turned around. What the heck did Henry do that shows he IS ready? In my opinion very, very little.

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nobody1793 4 years, 6 months ago

If a professional talent scout in the NBA selects you in the draft, you're "ready enough". They wouldn't waste their time picking someone they know will not be on their roster.

Is he going to be an NBA all-star or a hall-of-famer? Doubtful, but that wasn't the question.

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jayhawklawrence 4 years, 6 months ago

I am not sure why Mr. Keegan would write such an article about one of our guys.

Maybe he is in the wrong town.

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Jim Williamson 4 years, 6 months ago

Tom, you know as well as anyone that the NBA is about "coulda," not "shoulda." Z has "upside," which means he has "potential." Remember what Dizzy Dean said about potential?

"Potential means you ain't done it yet."

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DB Ashton 4 years, 6 months ago

What KRichards said...

How is this even a question? Your man is certainly sufficiently ready to dribble left as far as the bank. As the 14th pick, he's guaranteed $3.38 million for two years. At 23rd, it's $2.08 million. Third year, worst case, he's a free agent with the NBA minimum on offer, some $900,000.

Three years and some $3 million later, if he's a total bust, he can re-draw his life, at the more mature age of 23, while his contemporaries are just beginning theirs, toting a back-breaking load of student debt.

(Meanwhile, back at the Field House, Mr Self banks $3 million a year, Mr Perkins $4.4 million, and neither has scored a point or done more than dribble at dinner.)

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emptymind 4 years, 6 months ago

Henry's done nothing to prove he is NBA ready IMHO. A college degree, in the long run, will benefit him for life. I think anyone who passes up a chance, when given a free ride is a fool and, would want to take advantage of all college has to offer and then pursue their NBA dreams, if any.

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banksie 4 years, 6 months ago

I'm not convinced a degree in communications or whatever he would major in if he stayed in school four years would change his life.

He came to college to gain entry into the NBA; to prepare for his career. If he goes pro this year he will make millions, and could comfortably live off the interest from his salary for the rest of his life. Why not pursue his actual dream and get paid to do so?

If he is so inclined he can finish his degree over a couple summers or at the end of his career.

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jonas_opines 4 years, 6 months ago

Sandycove: "(Meanwhile, back at the Field House, Mr Self banks $3 million a year, Mr Perkins $4.4 million, and neither has scored a point or done more than dribble at dinner.)"

Putting Perkins aside, I'm trying to parse this post on Self before I decide how silly it is. I can't quite tell if you're suggesting that Self has never scored a point or made a dribble in his life, which is patently false, or whether you are suggesting, for some reason, that he should be doing those things right now in order to justify his paycheck. Any hints?

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timetospeakup 4 years, 6 months ago

Not sure what the deal is with the Bill Self hate. Does he bring in more money than we pay him? You bet. By a lot. Sounds like a great employee to have on staff.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 4 years, 6 months ago

"(Meanwhile, back at the Field House, Mr Self banks $3 million a year, Mr Perkins $4.4 million, and neither has scored a point or done more than dribble at dinner.) "


I can't speak for sandycove, but it seems to me that the point is that for Self and Perkins to bank that kind of money, they rely on fairly elite athletes working for room, board and tuition (for an education potential one-and-doners don't really want in the first place.) So if Henry can start getting paid, quite well, for doing what he's doing for relatively little compensation at KU, he should go for it, and not look back.

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hip_gma 4 years, 6 months ago

Had he not been on a team with so much talent I think his athleticism would have shown more. I always wonder if one-and-doners are ever ready for the NBA world and all its pressures and temptations.

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SouthsideDave 4 years, 6 months ago

" What makes Henry NBA-ready if Rush wasn’t? "

Not a whole lot that I can see. He'll end up on somebody's developmental squad.

One and done - to the bench ..................

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Mike Ford 4 years, 6 months ago

rush wanted to go pro out of Oak Hill Prep. He "redeemed?" himself in th eyes of the "Hoosiers" watching basketball worshipping Lawrence KU Homer's eyes by staying and getting a title. He's had good stretches of play with the Pacers even though Labron worked him over on ESPN a couple of weeks ago. Fine. There is a "KU-homer" line of thought. They hate the NBA, they live in the mythical land of KU basketball and they don't always see what those people outside of Lawrence see. I see another Thabo Sefolosha in Xavier Henry. A swingman with the body to be a stopper on 2 guards and point guards. If Xavier is good at this, he won't have to average 14 points a game in the NBA to have a job. Xavier will be drafted on physique for his position the same way Cole Aldredge will be drafted for his physique as a post person. Xavier averaged 13 points a game on a balanced team, just like Corey Maggette and MJ. Who knows what would've happened if he was featured more. BTW, I attend NBA games and I see on the court what the homers don't see

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jumpin_catfish 4 years, 6 months ago

Kid needs more seasoning but whatever, get that big payday. I would.

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jonas_opines 4 years, 6 months ago

"btw, I attend NBA games"

Wow. srsly?

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Janet Olin 4 years, 6 months ago

Xavier could benefit from one or two more years to develop and expand his skills, just like Brandon. Why not learn from great coaches and start every game, possibly lead the team, and raise his NBA stock to lottery pick status? Otherwise, he'll get to be practice squad and ride the bench for several years. The NBA will be there and so will the money. Play every day, improve, and grow up learning from people who have your interests at heart. Can't say that about the NBA.

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Mike Ford 4 years, 6 months ago

so I'm being hated on because I sit fifteen rows from an NBA court in Oklahoma City a couple of times a season. I've followed NBA and college since Dr. J and was involved in KU title festivities in 88 and 08 on Jayhawk BLVD and Mass St. I'm willing to pay $60.00 a ticket to go see an NBA playoff team in person. This amount is about the same as a KU game ticket with a lot higher level of play. Do any of you know who Thabo Sefolosha is? do you know anuthing about the NBA? nawww.... you just talk smack.

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Eride 4 years, 6 months ago

"tuschkahouma (anonymous) says… so I'm being hated on because I sit fifteen rows from an NBA court in Oklahoma City a couple of times a season. I've followed NBA and college since Dr. J and was involved in KU title festivities in 88 and 08 on Jayhawk BLVD and Mass St. I'm willing to pay $60.00 a ticket to go see an NBA playoff team in person. This amount is about the same as a KU game ticket with a lot higher level of play. Do any of you know who Thabo Sefolosha is? do you know anuthing about the NBA? nawww.... you just talk smack."


No, you are being hated on because you are being a d*** and incorrectly claiming that to know about basketball you have to actually go to the games. No offense but anyone who knows basketball would know that you know a lot more about what goes on when you watch it on TV.

Besides that... I agree with most of the rest of your argument. He should go.

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