Friday, June 21, 2013

KU reunion in Phoenix among draft possibilities for Withey

The Suns’ Markieff Morris, right, and his twin brother, Marcus Morris, play in a game April 15 in Phoenix. Former Kansas University players Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey have been mentioned as possible Suns picks in next week’s NBA Draft.

The Suns’ Markieff Morris, right, and his twin brother, Marcus Morris, play in a game April 15 in Phoenix. Former Kansas University players Ben McLemore and Jeff Withey have been mentioned as possible Suns picks in next week’s NBA Draft.


Former Kansas University center Jeff Withey, who has worked out for 13 NBA teams in 13 cities the past three weeks, knows the drill by now.

“Everywhere you go, you do the same thing — a little shooting, play 3-on-3 a little bit, do some conditioning at the end,” the 7-footer from San Diego told after his workout Thursday for the Phoenix Suns, who have two first-round picks — Nos. 5 and 30 — in Thursday’s NBA Draft.

Withey, who has one more workout scheduled Saturday in Indiana, was happy to inform reporters of a change in the routine Thursday.

“It was fun to be here. The twins were in attendance. They were cheering me on,” Withey said of former KU players Marcus and Markieff Morris, who play for the Suns. “It was a good little reunion. It was good to see them again. It was a good workout.”

Withey is aware there’s a chance Phoenix could take KU’s Ben McLemore at No. 5 and Withey with the final selection of the first round.

“It would be great. It’d be crazy if Ben went here, too. You’d have a whole team full of KU guys,” Withey said. “It’d definitely be a blessing. You can’t have your heart set on these things because you never know.”

Withey said he has concentrated on offense during the individual workouts with NBA teams.

“I want to show people I can shoot the ball. Something I’ve been working on is my 15-foot jump shot,” Withey, the Big 12’s all-time leading shot blocker, said. “I feel people know me pretty well already defensively. I just want to show them I can shoot.”

Walt Perrin, Utah Jazz vice president of player personnel, told the Deseret News he was impressed with Withey’s offensive game.

“He’s more than a back-to-the-basket player. He can really shoot the ball from about 15 feet,” Perrin said. “We know he can protect the basket. We know he rebounds. He played extremely hard (in Wednesday’s workout in Utah). But because you don’t see him stepping away from the basket at Kansas, he showed us that he can knock down the 15-foot jump shot.

“We had an opportunity to see Jeff shoot jump shots today. ... With the way we run our workouts, we want to take a look at different things so we’re able to see if they can get away from the basket, (or) if a smaller guy can post up, (or) we can see how well they’re going to work through the altitude, (or) are they going to finish strong. That’s his main skill — he can protect the basket,. He does a really good job from the weak side, and it would be intriguing having him and (center) Derrick (Favors). But you could say the same thing with some of the other big guys we’ve brought in, too, so we’ll have to see,” he added to the Deseret News.

AAU coach meets with NCAA: McLemore’s AAU coach, Darius Cobb, met with NCAA officials for several hours Wednesday with one KU official present, sources told the Journal-World. USA Today this week reported that Cobb was slated to meet with an NCAA rep to detail knowledge of former KU player McLemore’s relationship with middleman Rodney Blackstock, who is now a certified agent. A KU official was there merely to observe the proceedings, sources said.

Cobb has told USA Today that Blackstock paid for a birthday party of McLemore’s and paid for Cobb’s travel expenses to Los Angeles on fact-finding missions with potential agents for McLemore. Cobb also said he accepted two $5,000 cash payments from Blackstock.

KU associate AD Jim Marchiony said KU would have no comment on the case. It is against NCAA rules for a student-athlete or individuals close to a student-athlete to accept benefits from third parties like Blackstock.

Meanwhile, ESPN’s Chad Ford believes McLemore’s stock is falling in the draft perhaps because of Blackstock.

“McLemore is in a tug-of-war right now between adviser Rodney Blackstock and his agency Rivals,” Ford wrote. “It’s kept McLemore out of the gym and for the most part, out of workouts. How much will all of this affect the draft stock? I’m told teams are worried. But how worried? Enough for one of the most talented players in the draft to slide further? If the Suns pass on McLemore (at No. 5), both C.J. McCollum and Michael Carter-Williams are possibilities here.”


Hurinfan 6 years, 7 months ago

I didn't know Ben was using Blackstock as an adviser. That's effed up considering what Blackstock has done to our school. I thought Ben had more integrity than that. The fact that he is still involved with that man says to me he doesn't care about KU.

Jonny Swift 6 years, 7 months ago

Blackstock used to be an advisor. I don't believe he is anymore. I remember hearing a statement from Ben that he has pushed both Cobb and Blackstock out of his inner circle. Ford doesn't know what he's talking about....just a bunch of BS to stir up the pot

jhox 6 years, 7 months ago

Maybe he's using him to keep him quiet about other matters?

KansasComet 6 years, 7 months ago

The snakes and the fakes must be treated equally. College Basketball is a big business. You can find similar stories at every Major University. Most of the rules the NCAA has about amateur athletes should not even apply anymore. These rules were made long before any substantial amount of money could be made playing professional sports. Yet executives in the NCAA continue to make millions, and hide behind rules that existed many years ago. Using these rules as an excuse not to pay these student athletes. It is a shame.

Of course Rodney Blackstock earned the trust of Ben McLemore. How else was he going to make any money? Of course Chad Ford writes about player's stock rising and about player's stock falling, how else is he going to make money. Not surprised by any of this. Situation reminds of some Old School Rap: "It's all about money, ain't a damn thing funny, you got to have a con in this land of milk and honey". - Taken from: "The Message" by Grand Master Flash.

Jonny Swift 6 years, 7 months ago

Although it would kinda suck if Ben dropped to Phoenix at #5, it would be pretty awesome to see him with the Twins, and Withey to boot. I think the Suns would suddenly see a spike in fans from Kansas haha.

Ford is an idiot to keep dropping Ben in his mock draft. I thought the NBA draft was all about potential? And I keep hearing (from Ford included) that McLemore has the most All-Star potential in this draft. Ben gets labeled as non-assertive because of his one year as a Frosh playing with 4 seniors and because of his quiet, humble attitude and personality. Why wouldn't you rather have someone like that rather than the loud-mouthed, pompous big-time recruits that is now the norm? Ben's going to be a great teammate and gel wherever he goes...not to mention his All-Star potential and sweet stroke.

Biased opinion, but I still agree with Bilas that McLemore is the #1 prospect in the draft. Noel? Please. He's a great defender (I hear slightly better than Withey? Who knows), but is his offensive game even better than Withey's? Withey averaged 13.5 ppg on a better team while Noel averaged 10.5. And the kicker....after his injury he's slimmed down to about 205 lbs. He's a stick right now! And not fully recovered from his injury, and probably won't be until halfway through the upcoming NBA season. Do you waste the #1 pick on a long-term defensive project that might not ever be the player he was before the injury? I don't think so, especially when there are plenty of other comparable 7 footers in this draft. I would pick Ben, but even Alex Len, Porter, or Bennett might be a better pick in the long run than Noel.

Plus how sick would it for Ben to play alongside Kyrie? That'd be one of the best young scoring backcourts in the league. I might add that Dion Waiters sucks.

Steve Reigle 6 years, 7 months ago

I keep hearing about how McLemore's stock is dropping for questionable reasons but how come we don't hear about Noel's stock dropping because of questions about his conditioning while injured and concerns as to how well he will recover from those injuries?

Alex Peekeaton 6 years, 7 months ago

The reason Nerlens weighed only 205 lbs. at the combine was that the doctor who performed the surgery, Dr. James Andrews, told Nerlens to lose weight to speed up the recovery process. Nerlens weighed ~228 lbs. before he was injured and is now gaining the weight back. Noel’s trainer, Kevin Wilk, stated last week that Noel is “well ahead” of schedule. Also, Dr. James Andrews was recently asked about the status of Noel's recovery:

“We’re really happy with his progress,” Andrews told ESPN. “He’s several weeks ahead of schedule on his rehab. He’s improving on a weekly basis. He has a completely stable knee. The bone plugs are completely healed into the bone. His muscle and weight is returning. He has had no setbacks at all.”

JayHawkFanToo 6 years, 7 months ago

A lot of publications now have Alex Len ahead of Noel and they also have McLemore as #1. Unfortunately, the big news outlets such as ESPN get all the attention; pretty much like Lunardi's Bracketology which is far behind other less publicized predictors, but the most popular nevertheless.

The problem with Noel is that he had the same injury in high school and many informed people believe there is serious structural issues with his knee(s).He will have to add weight to keep up with the bigger players in the League, which might magnify the problem. Also, the only skill he has shown so far, is that he can block college players, although he is not a straight up jumper like Withey, but tends to jump into the player. His offensive game is weak and he is a long term project at best, both because of his heath issues and his current development. He might well end up being the next Greg Oden...albeit a much younger looking one.

REHawk 6 years, 7 months ago

Gotta hope that this exciting new crew of Jayhawks doesn't step into a situation wherein KU Basketball suffers penalties from any of this Cobb/Blackstreet malfeasance. Also, that none of our highly ranked recruits are tagged with similar ties to vultures. Way too many dollars swirl around coaches and athletes at the "amateur" level.

actorman 6 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for the link, aresnik. Seems like a good summation of McLemore's situation.

clevelandjayhawker 6 years, 7 months ago

Wait till they see Withey shoot from 3 point land, he never missed a 3 in college!

Chris Bruning 6 years, 7 months ago

Just thought i'd throw in that Markieff is the one on the left, not right.

KGphoto 6 years, 7 months ago

I remember being surprised that Withey wasn’t shooting more jumpers when he got to KU. His high school highlights show a nice range, and some athletic ability. He was hitting turnaround, and fadeaway jumpers. He kind of had that “Next Dirk Nowitzki” look to him. If he can consistently drain 15 footers he should really blossom in the wide open NBA game.

Ryan Zimmerman 6 years, 7 months ago

If Withey and BMc both get drafted to Phoenix, and would play with the Morris', it will finally give me a reason to watch NBA games

brooksmd 6 years, 7 months ago

Why would this supposed infraction affect BMac's draft potential? What does the NBA care?

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