Monday, July 2, 2012

Jeff Withey relishes camp, block


Jeff Withey starts his story with the good news: During two-on-two drills a week and a half ago, he blocked six-time NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire on a shot attempt.

So what happened after that?

“He went back and then he hit a jumper on me,” Withey said with a laugh. “But, yeah, I got him once.”

Withey, Kansas University’s senior center, learned quite a bit from trying to defend the New York Knicks’ star during Stoudemire’s Skills Academy in Chicago, which ran June 21-23.

“I was amazed how quick he is,” Withey said. “He’s not that much bigger than everybody else. He’s just extremely fast. I think that’s the difference between the NBA and college is just quickness.”

Withey’s biggest takeaway from the weekend was realizing which skills he needs to develop the most.

For the first two days, the big men primarily went through NBA-type workouts, which included focus on their face-up games in the post.

“Everything is so much further away from the basket than you’re used to,” Withey said. “(It’s) definitely getting that mind-set of, if you do catch it out, attack the rim as soon as possible.”

Making it even harder to concentrate was the setting. Each day during the pair of two-hour sessions, at least 20 NBA scouts were in attendance to get a look at some of next year’s top pro prospects.

“It’s definitely nerve-wracking, because they’re just down there writing stuff down. You want to know what they’re writing down,” Withey said. “It was a good experience for sure. It was definitely a good way to show your talent.”

Quite a few players were trying to do the same thing during the Saturday scrimmage, which made it more difficult for Withey to stand out.

“Whenever somebody has the ball, they want to shoot. You just have to get offensive rebounds if you want to score,” Withey said. “I felt like I did pretty well. Definitely good defensively. Offensively, I hit open jumpers. I did what I could.”

Last year at the Stoudemire Skills Academy scrimmage, former Kansas forward Thomas Robinson received a lot of attention after putting down a one-handed, alley-oop dunk off a feed from Scoop Jardine.

Though it didn’t receive the same Twitter buzz, Withey’s highlight came when trying to prevent a fast-break bucket.

“They went up to try to dunk it, and I blocked it. It hit the backboard and flew all the way to half-court,” Withey said with a smile. “Everybody was just like, ‘Ooh. Aah.’ It was pretty cool.”

Withey helped as a high-school counselor at the event with 13 other college big men, including Duke’s Ryan Kelly and Mason Plumlee, Creighton’s Doug McDermott and Ohio State’s DeShaun Thomas.

Before he battled him in drills, Stoudemire approached Withey, telling him that he’d played well in the NCAA championship game before wishing him luck for the upcoming season.

“You don’t realize ... everybody watches those games,” Withey said. “It’s definitely cool to hear something like that from somebody that you look up to.”

Withey will be picking up more NBA instruction soon, as Sunday he accepted an invitation to the upcoming LeBron James Skills Academy in Las Vegas.

The camp, which runs Friday through Monday, features skill-development work and competition for the top 20 college basketball players in the country.


jaybate 1 year, 9 months ago

~On the subject if rebounding...

Most rebounds in an NBA game:

55 Wilt Chamberlain, PHW vs. BOS 24Nov60

The greatest rebounder of all time set his record against the best team in the league. Couldn't verify if Big Russ got the record hung on him or not.

Jeff, aim high. :-)

~On the subject of Wilt, remember that Wilt is the greatest scorer of all time in the NBA All Time also. Jabbar officially scored the most points, but Jabbar's record should be given an asterisk the same as Roger Maris home run record was, and the same as Bonds, McGwire, et al should be, if their home run records even continue to be listed. Jabbar scored his points in six more seasons than Wilt. Compare Jabbars point total at the point Jabbar played the same number of games that Wilt played at retirement and Wilt is still the greatest scorer of all time. Jordan? Fuggeddaboutit.

Wilt Chamberlain. The final word in scoring, rebounding, and whenever he had a good team around him, winning rings. It is positively scary to think what he would have done had he landed in Boston with Auerbach.

Compare his team's winning percentages when he had a championship quality team around him--the two seasons he won rings. Sky high. The Laker team set the record for highest winning percentage up to that time.

No wimpy MiJor and Big Russ apologists please.

Wilt with MiJor's teams would have won more rings.

Wilt with Big Russ' teams would have won by bigger margins.


The greatest player ever.


Mike Hart 1 year, 9 months ago

Hey... I'm a Jayhawk fan with the best of them. And I'll be the first to admit that Jeff Withey has improved alot and developed .... and has already come a long way. But he is still not a fluid basketball player. His offensive game is extremely stiff, if not plodding. He doesn't have the quickness nor athleticism to compete with the best athletes in the NBA. He will get pushed around from time to time... and people will go around him. Yes, he's a shot blocker, but let's get real... he may get drafted in the 1st round... but NOWHERE NEAR THE TOP OVERALL PICK. Let's give Withey credit.. .but at the same time... be realistic. You can't teach speed and athleticism.


jaybate 1 year, 9 months ago

I like Amare. A kid blocks his shot and he doesn't break his arm dunking, he just steps out and drops two to remind the kid that if he were really NBA ready he would also be able to come out and deny him the two.

I'm bullish on Jeff and his game, but blocking in college and blocking in the NBA are different activities.

Block someone in college and the opposing team is frustrated and intimidated.

Block someone in the NBA and unless you are built like the Maginot Line, someone is sent for pay back, maybe several.

Heck, Shaq finally just punched OTag flatter than a pancake and that was the end of OTag blocking Laker shots for the rest of his career.

Unless Jeff really becomes a body building freak capable of dealing with massive retaliation, then his shot blocking will be something he will rarely be allowed to do without a brutal counter attack.


CrimsonAndBlueForLife 1 year, 9 months ago

Jeff is certainly learning from the best in the pros. That will only help him more when he embarks on his senior campaign. I'd love nothing more than to see Jeff Withey leading KU back to the Final Four and winning the title that should have been theirs if it hadn't been for those cheatin' 'Cats.


Chris1955 1 year, 9 months ago

If he had been available in this year's draft, I think the Houston Rockets would have taken him. We're dying for anything remotely resembling a center.


HawkKlaw 1 year, 9 months ago

I never thought I'd be saying this, but Jeff Withey will be the best center in the NCAA this coming season. Not sure if that means he'll be the number 1 overall pick or not, but it does mean that us KU fans can look forward to watching a boatload of wins this season.

In other news, the sun will rise in the east tomorrow morning...


Tony Bandle 1 year, 9 months ago

Let's see....a legit seven footer who can block shots, rebound, set hellacious screens and is a better free throw shooter than over two thirds of the NBA......hmmm....maybe there's a place somewhere for a guy like that.

Posted with no malice and all understatement!!

[Jeff won't be #1 but he will make Ostertag-like career millions for his value as a role player]


championhawks 1 year, 9 months ago

I agree with Mike, improvement offensively gets JW into the lottery, but I think he will have a hard time cracking the top 10 with the younger talent that could be in the draft. A season that mimics last year will have him drafted later in the first round (20s)


flyingfinn 1 year, 9 months ago

The NBA always has room for 7 footers especially if they can play defense like Jeff. No he probably won't be no. 1 one but I think he will go high in the draft. That being said I am looking forward to this coming season where I think Jeff and the Hawks will again be a force to be heard by the end of the season.


mikehawk 1 year, 9 months ago

Jeff has to learn to step out and use the touch we see at the FT line, to hit some medium range jumpers on a consistent basis. If he can develop that, with some decent passing, he could have a 10 year pro career and make a ton of money, whether he starts or not. He won't have Thomas taking all of the attention this year, so that reality will make it harder. I am concerned the KU faithful will have expectations which exceed his role and function for this team. I don't see him carrying the scoring load, but will pick his spots and from time to time score in the 20's. He could however, have a bunch of double doubles, and I predict at least one or two triple doubles next year. More strength, increased range on shot, and while he won't be even close to being the #1 pick, he well could go in the low end of the lottery.


hawksince51 1 year, 9 months ago

Great to see Jeff is working hard on his game. If he improves next year, half as much as he did last year, he should be a first round draft pick. However, I have often been confused by the NBA draft picks.


Martin Rosenblum 1 year, 9 months ago

His blocking game is what gets him noticed, Aldrich was even better in the block department and look where he was drafted. Plus, look what Cole has been able to do with his career. Withey will be drafted at 7ft and as a multi year Jayhawk player who played behind some real talent. Unless he comes out and ups his scoring average this upcoming season, he will be subject to "footers" from outside the country who will determine his pick status. Had he been in this year's draft, maybe # 50-60. Next June, he'll go 30-40, but still in the second round.


ccarp 1 year, 9 months ago

Glad to hear the defensive timing is still there. Adding a jump shot? Great! Gettting faster and stronger is wonderful too. Hopefully maintaining that sweet stroke from the line. I'm most impressed with the confidence he is gaining. Stay focused and humble, Jeff, and great things will come.


Jay Dogger 1 year, 9 months ago

A year ago I would never have thought we'd be having these discussions about Withey. I remember someone posting, "Even guards push him around!" I think most of us were just hoping he'd be 'ok.' People thought he was soft, especially compared to the Morri and T-Rob. Well, I think he can hold his own.

Rock Chalk, Jeff Withey!


John Randall 1 year, 9 months ago

At this point, about 25 players could put together the kind of season that would have them at the top of the list. Jeff is one of them. One factor holding down his draft potential is that he's a fifth year senior, while many of the others are up to four years younger and thus appear to have more upside yet to be realized. It will be a lot tougher for him on the offensive boards without T-Rob drawing double teams on the other side of the lane. His offense will be a lot more on him to make more of his own opportunities. I have no such reservations about his defense.


Jason Keller 1 year, 9 months ago

You heard it here first from kellerman411. If Jeff Withey can maintain the muscle that he is currently putting on this off season, he will be drafted number 1 overall. I know it's bold but heck the guy would have easily been top 20 in this draft. I'm also assuming that his footwork improves the way that it has been improving.

The guy is a real 7 footer. He has a few strong post moves. If you put him on the free throw line he will absolutely murder you. He has good timing and leaping ability to block shots. His character is an A+.


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