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Monday, January 12, 2009

Withey ready for fresh start

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Jeff Withey on Sunday night jammed as much stuff as he could into a pair of suitcases.

“I’m really excited. I’m packing right now. I’ll be in Lawrence tomorrow,” Withey said in a phone conversation from Tucson, Ariz.

Withey — who on Christmas Eve announced plans to transfer from the University of Arizona to Kansas University — will make do with the bare necessities until the bulk of his belongings are shipped to town.

“I’m bringing everything I can — lots of warm clothes. I had to go shopping,” the 7-foot, 225-pound freshman center said.

“I’m actually looking forward to the snow, (but) I didn’t buy a winter coat,” added Withey, who said he’d make sure to pack his Xbox and iPod for use in the apartment he’ll be sharing with sophomore Conner Teahan.

Withey — who averaged 20.8 points, 13 rebounds, seven blocks and four assists his senior season at San Diego’s Horizon High — initially elected to stay in a warm-weather climate for college in choosing Arizona over KU and others.

He asked out of his letter of intent following the October resignation of coach Lute Olson, choosing KU over Texas, Gonzaga, Cincinnati, Indiana, San Diego and San Diego State.

“I would say I’m looking forward to a new, clean start,” said Withey, who last was in Lawrence for Late Night in the Phog his junior year of high school.

“There’s been a lot of negativity in Arizona. I’m ready to start all over and get on with my college career. I see it as a new start, a new beginning.”

Withey can start practicing immediately, but cannot play in games until the conclusion of first semester finals next December.

“I’m a little rusty,” Withey said. “I’ve been shooting a lot, playing a little bit of pickup here and there. I went back to San Diego (for a couple weeks over holidays) and worked out with my old high school coach. He pushed me, but it’s nothing like a workout with coach Manning (Danny, who works with KU’s big men).”

Withey is looking forward to going against 6-foot-11 sophomore Cole Aldrich every day.

“I hope it’ll help him playing with somebody else who is 7-foot tall,” Withey said. “He can help me out. He’s one of the best big men in college basketball.

“Hopefully I can help him by trying to play some big ‘D’ on him,” Withey added with a laugh.

Withey said he’s not too concerned about trying to bond with new teammates in coming days.

He’s already friends with one Jayhawk freshman.

“I know Travis Releford pretty well. We played in Europe together (on USA Basketball Under 18 national team). It’s a little nerve-wracking, but this is going to be my new family,” Withey said.

He has watched some of KU’s games on TV, including part of Saturday’s 75-62 loss at Michigan State.

“This year there’s a lot of freshmen and sophomores. I think it’ll be a growing year,” Withey said.

“I’m coming in with the highest expectations for the team. I just want to go in and help the guys and look forward to playing next year. I wish I could play now, but I’ll be in practice pushing the guys and hopefully we can win the Big 12.”

He said he has “heard a little bit” about the buzz of KU fans, who are enthused about the arrival of Rivals.com’s No. 36 player in the Class of 2008.

“I’ve heard a little bit, but I try to stay out of the whole thing,” he said of hype. “I have high expectations for myself. I can only come in and give it my all and hopefully help as much as I can this year.”

Today he says goodbye to his mom and dad, who will be moving to Lawrence next school year. They currently live in Tucson.

“Not too many goodbyes,” Withey said. “I mean, we’re more excited than sad.”

Notes:

Little update: No decision has yet been made on the status of junior Mario Little for Tuesday’s KU-Kansas State game. The plan is for Little to practice today, then have his lower left leg X-rayed. A decision to red-shirt or continue playing in games will be made sometime before Tuesday’s tip. He has been slowed by a stress fracture in his leg as well as a broken bone in his left hand.

lNext up: KU will meet Kansas State at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Allen Fieldhouse. The Wildcats (11-4) fell to Oklahoma, 61-53, on Saturday in Manhattan. The loss snapped the Wildcats’ six-game win streak.

Comments

jaybate 11 years ago

Well, if Withey's parents sold out of their San Diego house a year ago, and rented in Tucson, they should be able to afford the best house in Lawrence right about now. :-)

YaBoyJrod 11 years ago

I am actually visiting the San Diego area and have heard nothing but positive things about this kid.

Robert Brock 11 years ago

Withey brings a lot of defense, rebounding, and shot-blocking. He can really move. What he needs to learn is half-court offense and Danny Manning is going to be a terrific teacher.

yates33333 11 years ago

Withey, what kind of food do you like? Can fans help fattening him up a bit. 7 feet, 225 pounds.

ku98 11 years ago

I am sure some of you have already seen it... but check it out anyway...http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0Fqnm4Ldsw

nebraska_jayhawk 11 years ago

I was reading some Arizona message boards, and man were they trashing WIthy calling him soft and hurling other insults at him. But I'm sure they were praising the heck out of him when he de-committed from Louisville I think it was and committed to Arizona. I'm sorry he has to put up with that stuff, but I hope he succeeds and KU and will make an immediate impact when he starts next year.

jaybate 11 years ago

Watched Bou Yube mix with production quality from the River Styxx.There are always reasons 7 footers are ranked as high as 35th and as low as 35th in high school.As High As 35th:Runs the court well.Agile for a big guy.Coordinated.Decent proportions.Can block shots and likes to.Plays with enthusiasm and appears to enjoy the game.Strong back/torso.Not a goose neck, so most of his 7 feet are usable.He'll still be 7 feet and mobile at the end of games.Weight training and fundies can make this guy a strong fellow with a good horizontal game, but it will take 2-3 years for it to come to fruition.As Low As 35th:Not much elevation on the J, at least on the one J mixed.No hint of a palette of developed offensive moves out of the post ; i.e., almost no offensive fundamentals to use against an D1 post man nearly his size.Modest springs. Only elevates on a two step (running) dunk. Has ground clearance issues off of one step that will show up in D1.Shoulder strength, but not much arm strength.

jaybate 11 years ago

Summary: Even though Withey is fairly graceful and smooth for a big, Withey's limited springs make him look predisposed to become a brawny, horizontal type, rather than the big wing span Albatross that Cole is becoming. Not as quirky physically as Cole, but also probably does not have as many of the instinctual knacks for the game that Cole came prepackaged with. Certainly an excellent add. Could be as good as Cole in his own way. His enthusiasm is good, but that is not the same as being a warrior. Warriors don't tend to keep backing out of places. Warriors keep taking places over, they keep rising above adversity, not exiting it for smoother waters. Conclusion: Withey clearly got a taste of D1 ball and 'Zona's big and realized he lacks the fundies necessary to carry him at the next level without some intense coaching. He wasn't sure if the next coaching staff could give him that, so he transferred. Manning was clearly the deciding factor; but the buzz at the time of Withey's decision, i.e., that Cole would probably be going to the L next year, attracted Withey, too. He's clearly a guy who talks a good game of wanting to take things head on and compete, but as his gear shifting on where he's going indicates, what he really wants is less competition for PT, not more. Compare Withey's world view to Cole's and you get the essence of the difference between them and some indication of how Withey will likely develop differently. Cole was coming to KU no matter who was there; this meant Cole had the warriors heart. Withey was coming to KU only situationally. With Cole you had to develop Cole's game only. With Withey, you have to develop his game and the warrior's heart. I'm always doubtful you can do the latter, but some times its in there and no coach has ever brought it to the fore. Let's hope that is the case with Withey.What will really be juicy if Cole stays is not to see the playing together, but rather to see them rotating at the post. KU with a mobile, aggressive anchor type post man for 40 minutes every game will be a site to behold. And occassionally they will both be in. Imagine Self devising a double low post offense! Threes and stick backs. Screw the penetration game. And how about zones with these two guys in! With both on the baseline, the three guards can go play the three point line constantly.

Tony Bandle 11 years ago

Even if Cole goes pro, a semester of banging heads can't do anything but help both young men. Jeff sees the level, up close and personal, of what it's going to take to be a Dominant Div. One Big Man and how much more will be needed to get to The Show. Cole gets to practice against someone tall, quick and eager. Although under-sized, I think Jeff will eventually give Cole more and more challenges as opposed to what the twins do in practice now.I may be delusional, but I have strong feeling that Cole will give it one more year and, if so, Aldrich, Withey and Robinson in at the same time next year will almost be unfair. It will be equivalent to the noted goal line " jumbo package" used in the NFL. { Wait to you folks see Robinson..Dennis Rodman instincts without the weirdness. This kid feels every rebound, and I mean, EVERY REBOUND, is his.] Cole's totals may decrease proportionately.OOPS...here I go again, talking about next year when there's plenty of this year left. Is this a KU thing or do other schools do it too?? It's like talking about what's for dinner on Tuesday as you sit down for dinner on Monday!!!

jaybate 11 years ago

OakvilleJHawk,I agree that this will help Cole this season. Nothing beats working on your offensive moves against someone who is actually taller than you.But I think this will help Withey even more. He is going to start playing and be rusty in terms of game competition, but man is he going to know the KU system by the time he hits the hard wood. And this is soooooooooo good for a big man. I believe it would have been a lot better for the Twins to have a sheltered entry--either the kind Cole got, or the kind Withey is commencing--than to come in and be subjected to the massive pressure and frequent humiliations they are getting instead.But if the Twins can just hang on through this trial by fire, if they can just keep getting better by inches, as Manning says, they are going to be absolute tempered steel next year.

jayhawker_97 11 years ago

phuug.. i'm so eager to prove Jaybate's judgement of Whitey (blame it on microsoft) hi# is all true ..this kid looks so promising.i dont' totally agree on the ground clearance issue, though. Cole seems to have that problem.maybe i'm wrong.one thing i notice is how Withey tries to swat the ball challenging penetrator, he might get into foul trouble. but i love it when he taps or comes from behind.whatever.... it'll be fun to watch him and Cole playing 'no swat no sweat' defending the basket together. guarantee, they'll make the opponents pee their shorts.. bring it on!!

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