Saturday, December 5, 2009

Transfer Withey just California dreamin’

Kansas center Jeff Withey.

Kansas center Jeff Withey.


GameDay Cram Session: UCLA online editor Jesse Newell and Journal-World sports editor Tom Keegan take a look at what to expect from the Kansas basketball team's matchup against UCLA.

Jeff Withey wishes he could join his Kansas University basketball teammates in his native California this weekend.

“It sucks because UCLA isn’t too far from home,” Withey said Friday, a few hours before the Jayhawks — without Withey — boarded a charter flight for Los Angeles, site of Sunday’s 4:30 p.m., nonconference clash against UCLA.

“It’d be nice to go back home (to) enjoy the weather, see the ocean,” added KU’s freshman center, who grew up in San Diego, just a two-hour drive from L.A.

The 7-foot, 240-pounder was left behind because of an NCAA rule that forbids transfers from traveling until they are eligible to participate in games.

Withey, who arrived at KU last January after leaving the University of Arizona, is not eligible to play until a Dec. 19 home game versus Michigan.

“I’ve known for a while and understand why (he can’t make trip). I accepted it. It sucks, but there’s nothing I can do about it,” Withey said. “It will just make it a bit sweeter when I do get to play.”

Withey — he suffered a stress fracture in his right knee on Oct. 20 — returned to practice part-time on Monday.

“I’ve been doing individual drills with coach (Danny) Manning and halfcourt stuff. By next week I should be able to go up and down and start scrimmaging,” Withey said. “I think I’ll be able to play on the 19th. By then my knee will be fine. I should be in shape, know all the plays and everything.”

He said the stress fracture was a result of “a weird accident. I bumped knees (at practice), did some other weird stuff (to it) at the same time. It was in an awkward place. It kept me out a while.”

He also missed over a month of basketball last summer because of a sprained right thumb.

“Hopefully that will be the last of it,” Withey said of injuries. “I hope and pray that is the last of it.”

It’s not as if he arrived with a tag of being injury prone.

“I had little injuries in high school, nothing severe. I’ve been blessed that way,” he said. “Hopefully I can keep that going.”

As a senior at Horizon High, Withey chose Arizona over finalists KU and Louisville, though UCLA was in the running for a time.

“They recruited me hard,” WIthey said. “I didn’t think I fit in there so much.”

His KU teammates are looking forward to the day he’s eligible to play in a real game.

“He’s an inside presence. He’s long , athletic and a ‘footer,’ — a 7-footer,” freshman Thomas Robinson said. “Anybody that tall and athletic can help the team.”

Bruin recruits

KU freshmen Xavier Henry and Elijah Johnson were recruited by UCLA.

“Ben Howland is a real nice coach,” Henry said. “It’s a good program.”

Johnson started to follow UCLA closely after he moved to Las Vegas while in junior high.

“I grew up in Gary, Indiana. It was always, Kansas, Kansas, Kansas, Kansas,” Johnson said. “When I moved to the West Coast, UCLA came into the picture. My heart was in the Midwest, so it was Kansas.”

Johnson will have a batch of relatives and friends at Sunday’s game.

“It’s exciting because it’s my first game back West,” Johnson said. “I get to play in front of some family and actually play against a good team that recruited me pretty hard and get to play against another school that goes down in history for a lot of things.”

He really is a rookie

Xavier Henry takes a team-leading 17.0 scoring average into Sunday’s game.

“No,” senior Sherron Collins said, asked if he considers Henry a freshman. “I don’t know what year to call him. He’s a little bit ahead. (But) when it comes to freshman duties, he’s a freshman.”

Duties? “Carrying bags, waiting in line to eat, little things,” Collins said.

Self, however, said he still considers Henry a freshman.

“There’s definitely a lot to absorb, him trying to get what we are trying to accomplish on both ends,” Self said. “I don’t think he’ll be a freshman past Christmas.”

Meanwhile, C.J. Henry, who missed Wednesday’s game because of a sore knee, has been practicing, Self indicated.


UCLA, which enters with a 2-4 record, has been hit hard by injuries. Also, sophomore forward Drew Gordon announced plans to transfer earlier this week.

“There have been some rumors he (Howland) may play some zone,” Self said. “Ben plays less zone than we do, which isn’t much. From a depth standpoint, maybe on the perimeter, they may play some zone.

“I watched tape of our Elite Eight game (UCLA’s 68-55 win over KU in March of 2007). We couldn’t score on them and they couldn’t score on us. The only way teams could score is if the other team helped them on turnovers.”


CaramelMacchMan 10 years, 10 months ago

This team has two starting rosters... i didn't believe in myself about 6 months ago. But i was wrong.

of subject: "if Alabama and Florida goes in overtime or two... there will be discussion about Alabama and Florida again in National Title game." - Kirk Herbstret.

Are you kidding me? Was Herbstret under influence when he said that? unreal!

rockchalkchampionship 10 years, 10 months ago

maybe if nebraska pulls out an upset. i'd rather watch florida and alabma again than tcu vs. the winner.

jayhawkinATL 10 years, 10 months ago

Heck no...would love to see TCU in the title game and actually win it all!!!

Jeff Schartz 10 years, 10 months ago

that's the most abdominal rectum I've ever heard...

Steve Brown 10 years, 10 months ago

Mr. Wooden: Here is a guy that will be rooting for UCLA yet so admires the 'game well played' that if we are able to give our 'best' effort he will smile and appreciate it no matter the team.

It would be enlightening to be in his head during the jayhawks introduction and the rock chalk chant at the end.

Will he recall fondly his summer days in Larry town, the pals he met and our school on the hill. The times of his youth, before he met Nell. His dreams of amber waves of grain, he worked the harvest as well as the stadium construction

oh what dreams may come.

I hope he is healthy and able to attend, it would be our honor to play in front of him.

for you that may not have been around or understand some of our misty eyed reverence for this man, let me share he was a 'class act'.

For about 12-15 years the 2nd best team in america was sitting on his bench. Sort of like a man we know today.

thank you coach, both of you.

optichawk 10 years, 10 months ago

Well said, Lighthawk...well said.

About Withey, does anyone know he can really play or will the speed of the game take its toll on him and relegate him to more bench time? Its a question I haven't heard anyone answer with any conviction mostly because the guy has not played at this level and has been hurt. Thx... OH

DCJayhawk0208 10 years, 10 months ago

lighthawk, Wooden didn't work on the construction of Memorial Stadium.

Wooden didn't graduate from high school until 1928 (the major portions of the stadium were built in 1920 (East and West), 1925 (bleachers expanded south) and 1927 (the North Bowl).

That's just an urban legend.

KGphoto 10 years, 10 months ago

Withey can definitely play. Long arms and quick hands on defense, and he has Dirk/Garnett-like athleticism. Much more range than Cole too.

swunruh 10 years, 10 months ago

Withey is a great kid and will be a big help on defense. The Jayhawks are fortunate to have a kid like this.

Martin Rosenblum 10 years, 10 months ago

Nick Krug -

Was that photo of Jeff taken while he was watching the rest of the team leaving for LA?

He looks kinda like a puppy whose owner just left the house for the day. Great choice matching the story context!

Now, your mission is in LA. I have no doubt that we'll see some gems from Pauley.

Steve Brown 10 years, 10 months ago

Dc then I've been misinformed thanks for clarification, excuse me while I remove the python from my bathroom pipes.

let's say he rested on the new bleachers enjoying an ice tea after a hard day in the harvest....seems like I read he slept under the stadium or has some reference to it admit this reference in my old brain is from 30 yrs ago something I read or hear...

oh well...Thanks.

altimer 10 years, 10 months ago

even though you could fit all the critisizem i have for bill self into a thimble, he himself lost that game by continually trying to go inside, be cause it worked against s. il. zone the previous game. the problem was ucla was bigger and stronger so they werent going to get inside on ucla. if he would of mixed it up and let them shoot he would of won easily. should of made the adjustment at halftime, it was obvious. well the thimble is full now so im done, because i cant find anything else hes done since hes been at k.u that wasnt perfection or damn close.

tdub 10 years, 10 months ago

Where's Brock with the daily "UCLA is gonna beat KU" proclamation?

Martin Rosenblum 10 years, 10 months ago

He probably had to work the morning shift at the DQ in Columbia.

RawkChawkJHawk 10 years, 10 months ago

DCJayhawk0208--Well then someone had better tell the Wizard himself.

"Every time I go, I learn something new about the Wizard of Westwood (a name he hates.) For instance, did you know -- Wooden helped build Memorial Stadium in Lawrence, Kan., still the home of the Kansas Jayhawks? He was 20, hitchhiking across the country at the time. "I wore my state championship sweater," he says. "It helped me catch rides." He needed some money, so he stayed and worked construction for two weeks.

100 10 years, 10 months ago


I've seen you post this before about Wooden (that his summer work on Memorial stadium is an Urban Legend).

Though I appreciate your conviction you couldn't be further from the truth.

About a month ago when Wooden turned 99 there was mention about his Lawrence summer on ESPN front page, promoting his new book.

Don't believe me? Go to Barnes & Noble & take a look at the most recent Wooden book -- it's in there.

Wooden literally hitchhiked down here from Indiana wearing his state championship coat with a few teammates. They thought the coats would make getting rides easier.

Upon arriving two of the first people Wooden sought out were Dr. Naismith & Phog Allen -- after this meeting he & his friends got jobs pouring concrete for the summer. During this time Wooden became very taken by Lawrence & the two legends of the game. In the end he couldn't stay for college like he had contemplated while working that summer -- his biggest role model (his dad) was sick & he had a lot of Indiana in him -- so the promise to go to Purdue to play basketball was fulfilled.

You are right about the seperate phases of Memorial -- you don't have all your dates correct.

Again, go check out the Wooden book.

"Passing Wins Championships"


Eliott Reeder 10 years, 10 months ago

KU will totally dominate UCLA tomorrow!


100 10 years, 10 months ago

Another thing to consider is Wooden's contemplation on this "transfer" matter -- he had just finished his freshman year at Purdue (& freshman couldn't play back then).

Obviously no NCAA back then -- A frehman who had basically attended class & practiced. When all's said and done, in those days if Wooden had changed schools he would not have to sit out a year!

He could have "played" immediately (like CJ) & ROCKED THE CHALK to back-to-back-to-back Phog Allen style undefeated dynasties!!!

"Rebounding Wins Championships"


optichawk 10 years, 10 months ago

lighthawk provided an enjoyable post...DC tossed in a wet blanket...100 & Rawk read the same book I did... so, I'm going with the book and not "urban legend" that no one on this forum can thwart the story...again, nice job Light.

Thanks KG for the perspective on Withey. If he has the range you say (and I love Cole's range from 10-12 ft out), he will be a great fit at KU but will be tough to get minutes until he proves he can show it all in conference games.

Dan Harris 10 years, 10 months ago

Teams like TCU,Cinci and Boise are the reason we need a playoff system. I live in Flower Mound Tx and have been to several TCU games this year and I guarantee you the y could flat out beat Texas Or Florida, but unfortunately we will never get the chance to see.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago


I think the issue of Gilbert's contributions is a valid issue to discuss about John Wooden.

Here is what is interesting to me. John Wooden, to my knowledge, has never denied, or confirmed, that Sam Gilbert did what he did. Since Wooden is candid on so many subjects, I can only take that as an indication that Wooden thought it was okay to give the players money, and that he probably thought it was the then standard in college athletics.

Never forget, John Wooden was highly principled, and on many occassions did not hesitate to violate convention, or rules, if he thought doing so was the moral thing to do.

Wooden was the first major college coach to break both the expressed (in the South) and implied (in the North) color lines in college basketball to play an African American. He did it in the middle of clan country at Indiana State University two years before he moved to UCLA. It was one of the most courageous acts by any college basketball coach in the game's history. To understand the courageousness of it, one has only to travel the rural towns of Indiana today where a clan resurgence has reputedly occurred to get an inkling of just how vicious the reaction was to Wooden's act in the late 1940s. A significant part of the reason Wooden wound up at UCLA was probably that UCLA was a pioneer in the breaking the color line in track and football and wanted a coach who would break it in basketball, something that was tough to find at the time in assistants and head coaches of the major basketball programs of the time.

Wooden, though silently disapproving of his players political protests against the Vietnam War, also quietly backed some of his players' extremely controversial decisions NOT to play in the Olympics for a variety of reasons, including the politicization of the Olympics during the 1960s and early 70s.

jaybate 10 years, 10 months ago

Wooden understood, as well as anyone, the abject poverty of many of the African American players that he recruited. He understood that college basketball had long paid players through alumni with summer jobs at inflated salaries, cash hand outs, and so on. We know this practice was wide spread in college basketball dating back to Wooden's playing days. We know that gamblers have long preyed on poor basketball players and involved them in point shaving scandals at many major programs.

I have always believed that Wooden looked the other way, because he believed his players deserved and needed the money and that he understood that at established major programs in his playing and coaching days, programs like Kentucky, KU and UNC, and Indiana, and Wisconsin, and St. Johns, and CCNY, that players had alumni sugar daddies, that cash and summer jobs were the convention of the time and that UCLA was no different.

I would only add that John Hadl was once reputedly caught recruiting in KU football with a brief case full of cash.

Gilbert at least did not work for UCLA.

I am not saying paying players under the table is right. I am partial to paying them above the table. But I am saying that trying to tar and feather Wooden for looking the other way at what all coaches have reputedly been looking the other way at, seems curiously asymmetric,

Doug LeMoine 10 years, 10 months ago

Jaybate: Nicely said, very informative, and that Hadl story is only the tip of the iceberg. For instance, did Wilt come to Kansas because he loved the amber waves? I think most folks know by now that his choice of college was determined by fringe benefits more than anything else. Anyway, big-time college sports was shady then, and it's shady now. There's too much money riding on it for it not to be.

ParisHawk 10 years, 10 months ago

No blog today? no Where can a poor European see the game?

Steve Brown 10 years, 10 months ago

One outstanding HS recruit was headed to Ted Owens and KANSAS, from Wyondotte or was it Washington HS, can't recall, returned from a trip to Malibu, party at Sam's house overlooking the ocean, nice sunshine, girls girls girls, as it was reported.

He went to be a bruin, our hearts were crushed by the local boy.

He help win 2 NCAA titles and was drafted the 3rd overall pick in NBA draft 69 - Lucious Allen called the jack rabbit.

so yes, folks UCLA had a fine tuned recruiting machine, true, yet Coach was coach and as we know it takes both talent and leadership.

Let's go Hawks lay a beat down on hollywood....RCJHKU

Steve Brown 10 years, 10 months ago

BTW it seems that eventually Sam was banned from any contact with the players, school, and recruits again just from memory....not sure.

Jeremy Bloom 10 years, 10 months ago

Who's going to be the standout KU player tomorrow? Collins? Henry? Aldrich? Robinson?

Steve Brown 10 years, 10 months ago

I'm chuckling out loud, we all hope it's Tyshawn, pulling for him to come out of his phog. he will someday, might as well be sunday.

30 so yrs. ago we were sitting around AFH discussing the soph. phunk. One pal suggested we just redshirt them all every time. Make it mandatory. He was sick and tired of the soph's errors He was building consensus among us, when along came a Mr. Manning, we never discussed it again.

soph. are in tough spot, no longer the freshman darlings and not yet the sage upper classman, those with the most severe cases, often become the best seniors. time will tell w. this one.

TT just be the best you can be, no longer the darling and not yet the seasoned veteran, we are proud of you being you, when you are ready to accept it.

thanks kansas...

TWINS THANKS you had your head case soph yr. last yr. ahead of plan.

Jason Roberts 10 years, 10 months ago

Anybody else going to the KU/UCLA game tomorrow?

Joe Baker 10 years, 10 months ago

Anyone curious again about our boy Withey?

Watch him move with the ball, without the ball and watch him block the ball!!

This kid is going to be phenomenal!!

KU is truly fortunate when he plays Dec 19 against Michigan.


Joe Baker 10 years, 10 months ago

“I’ve been doing individual drills with coach (Danny) Manning and halfcourt stuff. By next week I should be able to go up and down and start scrimmaging,” Withey said. “I think I’ll be able to play on the 19th. By then my knee will be fine. I should be in shape, know all the plays and everything.”

Dang! What a great opp this kid has worked with Danny all this time. He knows the plays and everything. I think he's going to be outstanding. I just don't want him to try too hard. Most guys overplay their first game. I hope he lets the game come to him and does what he can when the time is right.

Be patient big man and your stuff will happen. You have plenty of time to adjust and get in the groove!

Rock Chalk Mr Withey, we are happy to have you in the Crimson and the Blue!!

Joe Baker 10 years, 10 months ago

He is going to clean some boards and note his range on a few of these plays.

Joe Baker 10 years, 10 months ago

Here is in a shoot around with Sasha guarding him...LOL! Not fair when the big man who helped lead the team to a NC blocks your shot! LOL

Hang in there Withey, tell Sasha to pick on someone his own size...LOL

DCJayhawk0208 10 years, 10 months ago

Well, then. I stand corrected. My apologies.

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