After a very hot start to his freshman campaign, Xavier Henry
has cooled off quite a bit as conference season has gotten underway. He stills remains among the best freshman in his class, being a steady contributor as a starter for the #1 ranked Jayhawks.
From a physical standpoint, Henry has a very well-built frame, especially mature considering hes still only 18 years old. Athletically, he is a good but not great athlete, not having outstanding quickness or vertical explosiveness around the basket, but still enough to probably be considered average for a wing at the NBA level, while also possessing great coordination and body control.
Henry started off the season incredibly strong from three-point range, making over 50% of his attempts for a good portion of the season. His shooting accuracy has come down to earth a bit as conference play has begun,though, as hes made just 13 of his last 49 3-point attempts over his last 10 games.
Shooting the ball, Henry has a high and quick release and is very accurate when spotting up, even with a hand in his face. Pulling up off the dribble, hes not nearly as effective, however, as he isnt particularly fluid transitioning from dribble to shot, and this leads to problems when contested in these situations, although he is at least respectable pulling up when given space.
As a scorer, Henry relies heavily on his three-point shot, with nearly half of his overall attempts coming from behind the arc, almost all of the spot-up variety. Henry is limited in what he can contribute in isolation situations, as he has very little in the line of advanced ball-handling skills, appears to have just an adequate first step with the ball, and really doesnt even show much confidence or initiative pursuing straight-line drives to the basket (something that may very well make his first step appear worse than it is capable of being).
While Henry isnt a prolific shot creator in isolation situations, he does do an good job creating for others within the flow of the offense, being a very heady and willing passer, frequently making drive-and-dump and drive-and-kick passes off his cuts to the basket, doing a very good job keeping his head up and passing on the move. Henry is a smart and unselfish player in general, and definitely understands playing within the team concept and not forcing the issue much with the weaker areas of his game.
When Henry does get to the basket, he does a decent job finishing in spite of underwhelming vertical explosiveness, showing good body control and touch, though he could do a better job throwing his body around to draw contact. He may have more problems with this area of the game in the pros, however, though the fact that he has somewhat of a floater in his arsenal bodes well for him and is something he should continue working on.
On the defensive end, Henry puts in pretty good effort and shows a solid fundamental stance in perimeter man-to-man defense, but laterally he just doesnt seem to have the foot speed to stay in front of quicker guards, making it questionable if he can be a shooting guard defensively in the pros. Despite being just a touch undersized for a small forward at 66, Henry does do a much better job against slower, bigger opponents, being able to stay in front of them and use his length to contest shots, making it more likely to see him project as a 3 in the pros, which also makes sense given his underdeveloped ball-handling skills.
Looking forward, Henry clearly has two NBA skills in his three-point shooting and passing, while his team-oriented approach will certainly be appealing to teams, but with only a year spent in college and not much to show for it in terms of shot creating abilities, teams will have a tough time gauging his learning curve to see if thats something hes likely to develop down the road. Henrys attitude and approach to the game are definitely reassuring in this regard, but if he only projects as a role playing wing who cant create his own shot (and there are questions about which position he is best suited to guard), teams may be hesitant to draft earlier than the later portion of the lottery at best, though there are likely many playoff teams who would be happy to see him fall.