Archive for Thursday, April 8, 2010

Xavier seemed torn

April 8, 2010, 12:00 a.m. Updated April 8, 2010, 8:53 a.m.

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Ever get an image that creeps into your mind and you can’t keep it from coming back to haunt you? That’s what happened to me Wednesday while Xavier Henry, between tears, eventually got around to saying he’s going to the NBA.

The haunting image was of a 12-year-old boy who broke down and cried after drilling a batter on the neck with a pitch in a Little League game. He was only doing what his father told him to do and executed the pitch perfectly. Drilled the boy right on the neck, knocked him to the dirt, brought him to tears. Still, it didn’t seem right to him, so he was crying too. The more Xavier talked through the tears, the more this haunting daydream invaded my ability to focus, such as it is.

It was the most uncomfortable news conference I’ve ever attended. Here was Henry, so composed as to be robot-like on the court, sobbing while talking about how quickly he bonded with teammates, how much he learned from his coach. The tears and the compliments came across as 100 percent sincere.

It took Xavier three minutes and four seconds before he finally brought himself to say the words that it seemed he didn’t want to say. It took him that long to say he’s going to the NBA.

His brother, C.J., a walk-on on the KU basketball team, sat next to Xavier, wearing the expression of a body guard. When asked about how his brother’s decision impacted his plans, C.J. said he was not here to discuss his future. In doing so, he called to mind Mark McGwire testifying before Congress saying he didn’t want to discuss the past.

Xavier’s NBA career could have a happy ending, but it got off to a sad start. He was bawling so hard that at one point Kansas sports information direction Chris Theisen pulled three tissues from a box and handed them to coach Bill Self, seated beside Xavier.

Never one to pass up a chance to crack up a room — this one needed some light air pumped into it — Self took the tissues and tucked them under his glasses, dabbing at his eyes and laughing before passing them to Xavier.

Asked how he wanted his time at Kansas to be remembered, Xavier came across as the teenager that he is.

“Honestly, I would rather be remembered for the person I was off the court, a fun-loving kid,” he said. “I’m just a kid. I’m always smiling. I’m as nice as can be.”

It was evident Self has a genuine fondness for Henry.

“He’s a nice kid,” Self said. “He was pretty stone-faced, for the most part (on the court). He wasn’t a rah-rah guy. Some people might not have thought he was enjoying himself as much as he was. I think he really loved it here. That’s what made his decision difficult for him.”

That’s also what makes his decision difficult to understand. Sure, it’s tough to exercise patience when the money awaiting is outrageous.

Here’s hoping Henry makes a ton of it, but I’m not going to waste any energy hoping he enjoys it as much as he did playing college basketball.

None of them ever do.

• A previous version of this story was updated.

Comments

Lee Eldridge 5 years, 3 months ago

I was surprised by the emotion as well. Made me think he's choosing to go pro because that's what everyone EXPECTS him to do, not because it's what he WANTS to do. I loved my college years and am glad I didn't have to grow up too quickly. Heck, I'm still waiting to grow up :)

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

"In doing so, he called to mind Mark McGwire testifying before Congress saying he didn’t want to discuss the past."

WTF?

rtwngr 5 years, 3 months ago

It makes you wonder if going pro is what his father wants and not him. It's too bad these kids don't understand that life is not about money.

LivedinLawrence4Life 5 years, 3 months ago

Leaving after Freshman year to go pro = Millions of dollars while sitting on a bench and going into oblivion.

Staying four years, setting college records, and winning a national championship = Priceless!

Things like this make me appreciate guys like Sherron Collins more. Xavier will not be remembered as a Jayhawk whereas Sherron Collins will be one of those always talked about in Jayhawk history. Every time we reach the Final Four, guys like Sherron will be memorialized while guys who leave early like Xavier will not be mentioned.

BruceWayne 5 years, 3 months ago

it has been my observation that Self is 100% okay with this. I think he knew early in the season it was a mistake to bring X here. X seems like a good kid but his father seems like a total control freak.

JS82 5 years, 3 months ago

I concur with most comments here. If it were up to Xavier he would stay but his dad is pushing him toward the NBA and the $. Good Luck Xavier!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 5 years, 3 months ago

" If it were up to Xavier he would stay but his dad is pushing him toward the NBA and the $."

How do any of you know this?

Being sad about leaving and knowing that going to the NBA is in his best interest are not mutually exclusive, no matter what his dad's opinion on the subject is.

hail2oldku 5 years, 3 months ago

"LivedinLawrence4Life (anonymous) says… Things like this make me appreciate guys like Sherron Collins more. Xavier will not be remembered as a Jayhawk whereas Sherron Collins will be one of those always talked about in Jayhawk history."

Sherron would have been gone after the '08 Championship if he had not been injured. There were extenuating circumstances after both the '07 and '08 seasons that kept Collins around.

newmedia 5 years, 3 months ago

Some kids are ready for the NBA and some are not. Guess we'll just wait and see. Hopefully he can be another Paul Pierce.

LogJammer 5 years, 3 months ago

Basketball will "pan out" for X, barring some freak health issue or injury. If it isn't in the NBA it'll be overseas, where basketball is constantly gaining popularity and top tier clubs dish out better money than most people realize. As for his last 3 years of college, he can do what notably Shaun Alexander, Vince Carter, Emmitt Smith, Joe Namath, and Shaquille O'Neal have done: get his degree while playing pro basketball. I'm getting mine while flipping burgers, so I consider his situation pretty fortunate. And by the way, many of my burger-flipping colleagues already have degrees, and they didn't major in burger-flipping. Maybe an obscene amount of guaranteed money is more appealing than a degree that won't land you a job.

Alexander Smith 5 years, 3 months ago

Less see, crap load of money or have a solid education that will support me beyond my failed NBA career??? humm I am so heart broken.. ANYWAY.. smoke'm if you got them.

As for being another Paul Pierce? NOT, he was a good player but when you really compare him to talent in the NBA.. he doesn't come close.

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