Shortly after his Putnam City team beat Jenks in mid-March to win the Class 6A state championship, Pirates star Xavier Henry went running toward the stands.
He knew exactly where to find who he was looking for — his father, Carl Henry. Although security stopped him from climbing up into the stands for a celebratory embrace, eventually they had their moment. "I just wanted to share that with him,” Xavier Henry said. It was the culmination of a high school career that saw Henry win two state championships, earn every All-State and All-American honor, draw the attention of every major college coach in the nation and at one time rank as the top overall recruit in the Class of 2009. Now, Henry is also The Oklahoman’s Super Five player of the year. It was anything but a smooth ride for Henry. After winning a state championship his freshman year, each of the next two ended well short of a state title. Then this season nearly ended before it began. Henry was injured in a car accident, leaving him with a broken cheekbone, just before the season started. When he returned, though, there was little doubt that Henry was not only the best player in the state but one of the top players in the country. He averaged more than 28 points a game, and the Pirates lost just once with Henry in the lineup — that a loss in Massachusetts to a New Jersey team shortly after Henry’s return. This was what Henry had been raised to do. Carl was a top-flight basketball player himself, having played at Kansas, in a short stint in the NBA and in Europe. Xavier’s mother, Barbara, also played basketball at Kansas. Barbara mostly stayed out of Xavier’s basketball education, save a stint coaching his team at the Y when he was young. She also mostly stayed out of sight at his games, preferring to sit up high while Carl was front and center. "People criticize your kids and other people’s children and I just prefer not to hear it,” Barbara Henry said.