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KU50: #47 Xavier Henry

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Oakland v Kansas Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images

One of the toughest things I had to do when compiling this list was determine how to rank the one-and-done players who have come through Lawrence in the recent decade. Henry was KU’s first one-and-done player of the era, and he also may be one of the most underrated players of Bill Self’s tenure

His recruitment was a bit of a rollercoaster, with him originally committing to play for John Calipari at Memphis. When Calipari left for Kentucky, Henry decided to commit to Kansas, where both his mother and father played.

His college career started out hot, as he scored 27 points in his first game, the most by a KU freshman in his debut. He also became the first Jayhawk since Paul Pierce to score 30 points in a game when he eclipsed that mark against LaSalle.

Henry was unfairly maligned by KU fans in his year in Lawrence, mostly because of the 2010 team’s disappointing exit in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Henry wasn’t the best player on the team (we will hear from a handful of guys on that team later in this list), and he wasn’t the missing piece to a championship team. But he played the wing role in Bill Self’s offense about as well as you can, being a good spot up shooter, capable inside scorer, and capable defender. It is fair to note he didn’t rebound well and he didn’t have a ton of highlight reel dunks or acrobatic finishes as he slashed to the basket. However, as countless other Bill Self wings can attest to, that is not the wing’s role in his offense.

Longtime readers will know what is coming next, but to show just how underrated Henry is, let’s compare his numbers to one of the more revered players of Self’s tenure, Brandon Rush:

Untitled

Player Usage Ortg Defensive reb% Assist% TO% FT Rate 2pt% 3pt%
Player Usage Ortg Defensive reb% Assist% TO% FT Rate 2pt% 3pt%
Henry 22.1 112.7 11.7 9.8 18 32.5 49.2 41.8
Rush 21.9 112.1 13.1 12.6 16.2 20.8 44.8 41.9
Henry Rush

Also note Rush’s numbers are from his junior season, rather than his freshman season. Despite the advanced stats advantage, I am not ready to argue Henry was a better player than Rush, especially due to the latter’s superiority on defense, but the fact of the matter is it is a lot closer of an argument than most fans think.

Xavier Henry hasn’t turned into an NBA star thanks to some terrible injury luck, and he didn’t get to play on a Final Four team at Kansas. Because of this, and the fact he didn’t play more than one year, he doesn’t get remembered for what he was: one of the best 50 KU players ever and maybe the most underrated player on this list.

Previous:

#50 Charlie T. Black

#49 Paul Mokeski

#48 Mark Turgeon