Henry says Calipari said he would stay at Memphis, then he left the next day

jtipton@herald-leader.comMay 20, 2010 

CHICAGO — If Xavier Henry's experience with John Calipari is any guide, Kentucky fans should not take as gospel the UK coach's assurances that he'll be coaching the Wildcats next season.

Henry noted how quickly Calipari, like many coaches, can reverse course.

Having committed to play for Memphis, Henry ended up going to Kansas despite his eagerness to play for Calipari.

"My dad was was big on Coach Cal," Henry said Thursday in Chicago, where NBA Draft prospects are meeting team officials. "I was big on Coach Cal as well."

Speculation about Calipari going to Kentucky gave the Henrys pause.

"The day before, he told me he wasn't going (to UK), and he really wasn't thinking of going to Kentucky," Henry said. "Then the next day I saw he went to Kentucky. I felt that if he was going to leave Memphis and go to Kentucky, maybe we should go somewhere else, too."

When asked how it felt to be told one thing one day and be smacked in the face with a different reality the next day, Henry said, "He has his own agenda. He have to get paid. He has dreams, too. He said his dream was to coach Kentucky. I can't not like him for that.

"He went for his dream. I'm going to try to fulfill mine. It's not a big deal."

Henry, who starred for Kansas as a freshman, is projected as an NBA lottery pick.

Calipari led Kentucky to a 35-3 record and No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament in his first season at UK. Since the season ended, Calipari has denied speculation that he would consider an NBA coaching position.

Jordan Crawford learns

Jordan Crawford, a younger brother of former UK guard Joe Crawford, said Thursday that he's benefited from his experience of having played for five coaches in three college seasons and from his older brother's experiences.

"I grew up fast," said Jordan Crawford, who played for Kelvin Sampson, Dan Dakich and Tom Crean in barely more than one season at Indiana then transferred to Xavier, where he played for Sean Miller and Chris Mack.

"I don't take basketball for granted," he said. "Actually, it's a good thing."

Some NBA executives in Chicago to interview draft prospects have told him that the coaching changes were potentially beneficial.

"A couple teams actually said it was a good thing you went through," Crawford said. "Anything can happen in the NBA."

Older brother Joe, who completed his UK career in 2008, is still trying to make the NBA. He plans to play for a summer team in Las Vegas, his younger brother said.

The brothers are living together and working out together in Los Angeles.

"He's grown up," Jordan said of Joe. "When he went to college, all he wanted to do was play in the NBA. He's doing other things now. He's branching out. He's still playing basketball, but doing other things, too."

Jordan Crawford said he hears he's projected as a late first-round pick. He said he hopes he can move up in the draft, but he is also bracing himself for falling into the second round.

"You never know," he said.

Cousins 'misunderstood'

Cousins acknowledged being asked by NBA officials from Toronto, Golden State and Minnesota about his maturity level. He expects more questions to follow.

"I'm misunderstood," he said.

His response to such questions? "I tell them the truth," he said. "I'm not that type of guy."

At another juncture of his 15-minute session with reporters, Cousins conceded, "I'm still a work in progress."

When asked about Cousins, Orton said, "Really and truly, he's a loving spirit sometimes."

But Orton noted that Cousins can be temperamental.

"Kind of like watching a little kid throwing a tantrum, a temper tantrum," Orton said. "But he's a big, little kid. So he has to control it."

Great Wall

More than 30 reporters surrounded the table where John Wall sat fielding questions.

He said he planned to complete work on a degree. He noted that playing with LeBron James would be better than opposing him. He fancied the idea of being drafted by the Washington Wizards and having President Obama watch him play.

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