Mere seconds after Cole Aldrich finished his post-selection interview with ESPN, his former teammate, Xavier Henry, heard his name called by the Memphis Grizzlies with the next pick, being selected 12th in the draft Thursday night.
Rated as one of the top players in the high school class of 2009, Henry jumped ship from Memphis with his brother, C.J., reopening his recruitment after John Calipari left the Tigers to coach at Kentucky.
In Lawrence, Henry leaves a short but impactful legacy. Playing a supporting role for the Jayhawks behind Sherron Collins and Aldrich, he didn't always get the spotlight, but led the team in three-point percentage at 41.9% and thefts with 1.5 steals per game. On Thursday night, however, he made waves as the school's first one-and-done player to be selected in the lottery.
Whereas Aldrich will be counted on to bolster the Thunder's defense, Henry will bring that silky-smooth perimeter stroke with him to Memphis, a skill they'll sorely need. Last season, the Grizzlies posted one of the league's worst three-point shooting percentages, without a true perimeter threat outside of O.J. Mayo and Mike Conley.
Henry will also bring some defensive intensity, as head coach Lionel Hollins will count on him to help shore up the league's 7th-worst defense.
The shooting guard joins a young team in Memphis, as four of their five everyday starters last year were 25 years old or younger, so there's very little doubt he'll get a chance.
Unless the Grizzlies trade one of their increasingly-expensive young players, Henry figures to come off the bench and contribute in an auxiliary fashion. From a school that hasn't had a player make a major splash in the NBA since the Celtics drafted Paul Pierce, that's not exactly what KU fans are longing to hear; but if Henry can continue to hone his game to match the NBA-readiness of his big body, his responsibilities and production will surely heighten.