LAWRENCE — Kansas coach Bill Self said last week that he hoped redshirt freshman C.J. Henry would be able to play in tonight's second exhibition game against Pittsburg State, but Self said Monday that Henry's injured knee is not cooperating.
"He's tried to practice, and it's swelled back up," Self said. "I don't know if he'll play (tonight). He's about 70 percent right now."
Henry, possibly more than any other Jayhawk, needs to be practicing and performing in exhibition games this season. He has not been able to play consistently in more than four years due to three years in the New York Yankees' farm system and a year recovering from an injury at Memphis last season.
Since deciding to join little brother Xavier at KU this summer as a walk-on, C.J. has been working to recover from a foot injury. Now, he has added the knee to a growing list of ailments that have made it difficult for Self to evaluate the 6-foot-3 guard.
"He needs an opportunity to get out there and show what he can do and get a little confidence," Self said. "I'm concerned, but I'm not concerned as much about the injury as I am the fact he's missed so much time, and once we start playing games, we don't practice as much, and it's hard to get that rhythm and be out there once you start playing games for real. You don't put guys in the game just to get them in the game."
C.J. is not a candidate for a redshirt because he used that option last season at Memphis. When healthy, he will be among a group of guards vying to become the Jayhawks' primary ball-handler off the bench. Xavier said that C.J. is handling the latest injury in stride.
"It could be the support system and stuff like that," Xavier said. "He's got the whole team behind him, the coaches, he's got his little brother here. I guess that's the easy way to keep his head level."
Self said C.J.' s status would not affect the decisions about whether to redshirt senior Mario Little, sophomore Travis Releford or junior walk-on Conner Teahan.
Speaking of redshirts — Self said that he has talked with all three of his redshirt candidates and that, as of Monday afternoon, nothing was concrete.
"I'm going to visit with the guys again (Monday)," Self said. "(Tuesday) is really not (the deadline). We kind of put the date on it, but really you could still not play (Tuesday) and still not redshirt. We'll wait and see how it plays out."
NCAA rules state that returning players can't play in exhibition games and redshirt, so Self will be careful to play Little, Releford and Teahan tonight.
All three players would likely get most of their playing time at the No. 3 position, which will be occupied often by Xavier Henry. Self has also said that Marcus Morris has been working out 40 percent of the time at the No. 3 slot. Brady Morningstar played the position last season and will be back from his suspension in December.
More injuries — Self said that junior guard Tyrel Reed tweaked his right ankle over the weekend and may not be able to play tonight.