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SHANNON RYAN ON COLLEGE BASKETBALL

If John Wall isn't nation's top freshman, Xavier Henry is

Wall is averaging 18 points for No. 3 Kentucky, but there's no denying the impact Henry has made for No. 1 Kansas, averaging 17.7 points and shooting 53.5%.

December 22, 2009|By Shannon Ryan | On College Basketball

You've heard about this freshman leading one of the best teams in the nation, right?

No, not Kentucky's John Wall.

While nobody can argue about Wall's impact, nobody who has seen No. 1 Kansas would underestimate Xavier Henry's impact.

Not that Henry wants to go anywhere near talk of a freshman-of-the-year duel. He's just happy to be exceeding expectations with the Jayhawks.

"Everything is pressure," Henry, a 6-foot-6 wing, said Saturday after scoring 15 points in a victory over Michigan. "I put pressure on myself to play good. Outside pressure, it doesn't do anything."

Henry, whose basketball family tree is firmly rooted in Lawrence, Kan. -- both of his parents played at Kansas in the 1980s, and his older brother, C.J., is a redshirt freshman guard -- leads the Jayhawks with 17.7 points per game and shoots 53.5% from the field. The impressive numbers are especially remarkable given the Jayhawks' depth.

Wall averages 18 points and shoots 52.2% for the No. 3 Wildcats.

While Kansas and Kentucky don't play each other during the regular season, basketball junkies can't help imagining a Final Four showdown.

Asked about games he's excited to play this season, Henry answered Oklahoma because he's from Oklahoma City.

Brick of the week

Anthony Tucker, Iowa, and Royce White, Minnesota. Tucker got another chance at Iowa -- and blew it. He pleaded guilty to public intoxication last December and a month later was ruled academically ineligible. The 20-year-old sophomore now has been suspended indefinitely after recently being charged with public intoxication.

The Hawkeyes need Tucker, their second-leading scorer, on the court. But how many more chances can they give him?

White was a prized recruit, but legal matters involving an alleged laptop theft kept him off the court. Emily Post probably would say that announcing the decision to leave Minnesota via YouTube is not the proper way to say goodbye.

Game to watch

Michigan State at Texas, today.

The Longhorns can take down the entire 2009 national championship game. After beating North Carolina on Saturday in Arlington, Texas gets a crack at the Spartans in Austin.

sryan@tribune.com

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