Former Kansas University guard Xavier Henry has impressed his teammates in his first handful of practices at Memphis Grizzlies NBA preseason camp.
“He’s NBA-ready,” guard Tony Allen told the Memphis Commercial-Appeal newspaper. “He’s pretty skilled and highly talented. He can shoot, score, defend and make plays. He’s aggressive at all times, and that’s the key to him being successful right now.”
Added Grizzlies guard O.J. Mayo: “He can really shoot it, and he’s working well within the team structure.”
The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Henry, who attended college just one season, has been spending most of his time at shooting guard. He apparently caused a stir last week by rushing in to defend Luke Jackson and catching Jackson with an inadvertent elbow to the ribs. Jackson, according to the Commercial-Appeal, “fell to the court, writhing in pain with anger over an incident he later blamed on an over-enthusiastic rookie. Jackson had the wind knocked out of him, which was a testament to Henry’s strength.”
“I want to play,” Henry told the paper. “Just because I’m young I don’t want to sit on the bench and just wait my turn. I want to play as often as I can. So hopefully coach (Lionel Hollins) has enough confidence in me to play me. I’m just trying to step into everything with confidence. There’s always pressure. You just have to attack it and don’t let it eat you,” Henry added.
One negative is that Henry’s shooting has been inconsistent.
“He hasn’t shot the ball as well as he can, but two-a-days will do that to you,” Hollins told the Commercial-Appeal. “But he’s done a nice job of knowing the plays and being where he’s supposed to be.”
Former Kansas University forward Darnell Jackson, who is trying to make the roster of the Sacramento Kings, will miss tonight’s exhibition opener against Phoenix because of a strained right hip flexor, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The 6-9, 253-pound Jackson had impressed with 10 points and seven boards in Sunday’s open scrimmage. The Kings have 19 players in camp.
Only 13-14 will make the team. Twelve already have guaranteed contracts.