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April 24, 2011At 6-foot-9 and 205 pounds, Jarion Henry is a rare basketball specimen. Few players his size can effectively run the point, play a natural small forward position and defend up to four positions.
The University of New Mexico will find out just how valuable Henry can be next season.
Henry, the Dallas Kimball High School star forward who is considered one of the highest-ranked unsigned seniors in the nation, announced his verbal commitment to play for the Lobos and coach Steve Alford Sunday night. Henry made the decision late this past week but chose to formally announce his decision to the public live via a local television station in Dallas.
Henry chose New Mexico over Georgetown, USC, Oregon, SMU and Marquette. Henry, who recently visited New Mexico, said the Lobos have been heavily recruiting him all spring and have expressed interest in him for quite some time. Ranked No. 84 nationally by Rivals.com, Henry is expected to sign with the program early this week.
"It was all about loyalty," Henry said. "They've been there for most of my games. They would fly down just to say hi. I feel like they've been there for me for a minute, and I think that can be a spot for me where I can play right away."
Henry nearly averaged a triple-double for his senior season, averaging 14.8 points, 13.1 rebounds and 8.6 assists per game en route to helping Kimball win the UIL Class 4A state championship last month.
Henry is the son of former pro Skeeter Henry, who was a college standout at the University of Oklahoma. The younger Henry, originally from Cerritos, Calif., moved to Dallas before his junior season and has been a household name on the Dallas-area basketball scene since his arrival. Kimball coach Royce "Snoop" Johnson calls the senior a "Lamar Odom-type" in reference to his height, length and speed and how the intangibles successfully mesh with his guard skills.
It wasn't uncommon to see Henry start out playing inside only to switch roles and run the point for Kimball the last two seasons. He is capable of getting to the lane using either a quick first step or a nice -- and sometimes unsuspecting -- crossover dribble. Henry, upon penetrating to the basket, finished strong or made a solid pass to earn the assist.
"The first thing they're getting is a winner," Johnson said. "They're going to get a guy who not really caught up in all the hype. He wanted to come to a program that's a winner, and he wanted to contribute to a winner."
Henry added: "I can play the one [point guard], or I can play the three [small forward]. I like to switch it up."
Henry became the fourth Division I-bound player from this year's Kimball's team. Henry will join North Texas signee Jordan Williams, SMU signee Jalen Jones and New Mexico State signee Austin Franklin, a two-sport athlete who signed to play football.
Henry played summer ball with Dallas Showtyme Elite. His team won the Memorial Day Great American Shoot-Out last year in Carrollton. He teamed up with Jones, Texas Tech signee Kevin Wagner, Texas State signee Wesley Davis and North Texas signee Trey Norris, among others.
Henry's verbal commitment Sunday is nonbinding. If Henry chooses not to ink with New Mexico, he will have until May 18 to sign a national letter of intent.