Father of No. 1 recruit, Xavier Henry, says he will decommit from Memphis

New UK head coach John Calipari has built a reputation as one of the country’s best recruiters. As a result, more than just his reputation may be following him to Lexington.

Calipari had assembled what Sporting News columnist Brian McLaughlin called “one of the greatest classes of all time,” including ESPN’s No. 1 player in the country, Xavier Henry. ESPN’s fourth-ranked player, DeMarcus Cousins, also verbally committed to the Tigers — but both are re-opening their recruitment after hearing news of Calipari’s new job.

Henry and Cousins were at the McDonald’s All-American Game in Coral Gables, Fla., on Tuesday. Henry’s father, Carl, didn’t know where Xavier would end up — just that it wouldn’t be Memphis.

“That was the reason he went there — the style of play, Coach Cal,” the elder Henry said. “I haven’t talked with (Xavier) since Coach Cal signed at UK, but I know Xavier won’t be at Memphis. Once I talk to him Thursday when he gets back from Florida, we’ll get an idea of where he’ll end up.”

Carl Henry played for Calipari when Calipari was an assistant coach at Kansas in the mid-1980s. Carl Henry’s older son, C.J. Henry, is a 22-year-old freshman at Memphis who didn’t play this year because of injury. Carl Henry said C.J. Henry would not return to Memphis, citing his connection to Calipari.

Dave Telep, Scout.com’s national recruiting editor, said players today are more tied to a head coach than to a school. He cited Nolan Dennis as an example: Dennis is another sought-after member of Memphis’ current class, but he never made an official visit to the campus despite scholarship offers from North Carolina, UCLA, Texas and Texas A&M.

“Nobody can tell you with 100 percent certainty that these recruits will follow Coach Cal to Kentucky,” Telep said. “But reasonable minds can assume that the recruits will at least answer Calipari’s calls.”

Telep lauded Calipari for his nationwide networking, saying Calipari has the ability to handpick the country’s top recruits and “work down the list from there.”

Another recruiting expert, Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Jerry Meyer, called Calipari “an outstanding recruiter — truly one of the best.”

Both Meyer and Telep acknowledged Calipari’s past run-ins with NCAA recruiting rules, but neither were concerned Calipari would have any problems in the future. Telep said UK would have looked into it, but “(UK) answered that question the second they even asked permission to speak to Calipari.”

With a passionate fan base, a 24,000-seat arena and a pricy practice facility that’s still being broken in, Telep said Calipari has the resources available to pull in top recruits like he did at Memphis.

Meyer said he expects Calipari to bring in his gaudy record (noting Calipari hasn’t lost a conference game in three years), combine it with UK’s tradition — and inflate both.

“If Calipari meshes well with Kentucky, which I fully expect him to, I would assume he can replicate what Rick Pitino did in Lexington,” Meyer said.

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ukfan4life says:

Coach Cal already is weedin the weak out…2 of there up coming players r out forsure.. and he called a practice tonight. i am assuming to see who will remain and who he needs to cut for next year. sounds like he is gettin ready for someone to come in or atleast expecting it.. u don’t get rid of a player with an 89 overall rating for nuttin..

jayhawkfan says:

I’m not sure why he would go to Kentucky. He has never stepped foot on that campus. His parents went to KU.

If Henry really wants to be prepared for the NBA, I think he would want the 2 time coach of the year Bill Self and one of the greatest college/NBA players of all time, Danny Manning, helping him.

the only thing I am concerned about is will there be enough schollerships to allow coach calaperry to bring former recruits from memphis. would some of the weaker players transfeer or be cut? they certainly not play at uk. too many good players coming in. I am very excited about our new coach. would someone please reply. thanks.