AW3 gets his shot and rises up
Andrew White III, or AW3, has always had the potential to play like he did against Belmont. In high school he was known as one the best shooters in the country. Shooting is one thing that translates at any level of basketball so everyone assumed that White would just step right into the rotation for KU and light it up from 3pt land. Only he didn't. It had nothing to do with his shot, his attitude, or the players around him. The reason White never could find his way onto the court for an extended period of time was because of his defense. In the last 14 days KU has only played two games and has been able to really practice hard and not worry about games. It was a learning period for freshmen just like White. After this two week period it appears that White has learned how head coach Bill Self wants him to play defense. Against Belmont White played 10 minutes and extremely effective in those minutes. By extremely effective I mean extremely effective he was 6 for 8 shooting from the field for 15 points. Anytime a player at any level scores more points than minutes played you know something was going right. Yes I will admit that White was on fire from outside the arch, 3 for 5, and KU won't play too many teams like Belmont for the rest of their schedule. Yet it's not like this is out of character for White he averaged 22.9 PPG in high school. The Andrew White we saw against Belmont could be here to stay. White is a versatile player. Standing at 6 foot 6in White can play both as a wing and a forward. Against Belmont he played both of those positions. As a forward he stretched the defense with the pick and pop game KU played. Defenses will eventually pick up on White's ability to stroke the 3 pointer but if they jump out and try to guard him then they leave the KU guard with some open space to take the ball to the hoop. For defenses it's like a rock and a hard place. As a wing player White adds height. Most college wing players are not 6 foot 6inches so White will have the height advantage against his matchup and the better he gets at defense the more he will play at both the wing and forward position. Beyond just what White brings to the game when he plays he gives KU some tough to guard lineups. With White in the game KU can go in two directions. They can play somewhat small with White has a forward along side Jeff Withey or they can play big with White out on the wing alongside McLemore, Johnson, or Tharpe. In White's breakout game against Belmont KU at one point had a lineup at consisted of McLemore, Releford, White, Young, and Withey. To be quite honest I think Bill was just trying this lineup out but in the end it made a lot of sense. With that five in the game Bill was able to rest Elijah Johnson which will be key as KU approaches conference play especially since KU plays a lot of Big Monday games which are preceded by a game on Saturday. Those are always quick turnarounds and the more rested Elijah Johnson gets the more effective he can be. Though that lineup of McLemore, Releford, White, Young, and Withey didn't include a "true ball handler" it is still effective. Releford has shown he can handle the point guard postition in small moderations as well as McLemore. Though this lineup isn't ideal it will work for small periods of time. The key to this lineup is Andrew White. If he can continue to be effective on offense and show he isn't a liability on defense he be able to save the team when Elijah Johnson needs a breather. In the end against Belmont White got his shot to show not only the fans but head coach Bill Self the player he can be now with two big games against Richmond and Ohio State White will have to show everyone that he can be the player he was against Belmont. If so KU just got a whole lot harder to beat.
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