Sunday, November 20, 2011

Justin Wesley relishes defensive role

KU sophomore solid on UK standout Jones


Still a bit raw offensively, Justin Wesley has emerged as a solid defensive player early in his sophomore basketball season at Kansas University.

“I will say this about Justin ... could a guy have guarded any better than he did the other night?” KU coach Bill Self said of the 6-foot-9, 220-pound transfer from Lamar. Wesley spent most of his allotted 21 minutes shadowing All-America candidate Terrence Jones during KU’s 75-65 loss to Kentucky on Tuesday in New York.

Jones, a 6-9, 252-pound sophomore, finished with 15 points off 6-of-11 shooting in 35 minutes. Wesley chipped in five points with five rebounds.

“Justin was locked in, stayed down, didn’t go for fakes,” Self said. “When you are guarding a guy as talented as he is, it’s when you don’t gamble and miss. He was terrific defending.”

Wesley — he won’t be asked to guard many, if any, better than future NBA lottery pick Jones — hopes to earn a regular spot in the rotation by playing rugged defense.

“Early in the season, I remember you guys (media) asking me what I thought my role was going to be. As the preseason went on, I realized I wanted to focus on being the defensive stopper,” Wesley said. “It’s what I want to continue to focus on. I knew I had a job to do (against Kentucky) and wanted to focus on doing it to the best of my ability.”

Against Jones, that entailed “basically keeping my eyes on his legs. That’s what they said in practice,” Wesley said. “Stay low and keep moving my feet.”

Wesley averaged 9.0 points a game his senior year at North Crowley (Texas) High School in Fort Worth, Texas, and followed that with 1.2 ppg in 23 games at Lamar in 2009-10. He isn’t about to force the issue offensively.

“My understanding is Tyshawn (Taylor), Thomas (Robinson) and Elijah (Johnson) are our three best offensive threats,” Wesley said. “The role I’ve taken is playing good defense and getting them the ball as much as possible, being a ball-mover, setting good screens, getting to the basket and rebound, getting those trash buckets.

“As far as stepping into the role of being a major contributor, it’s not my main focus now. If that comes when the season progresses, I’ll take on that role. Right now I’m just focusing on the defensive aspect.”

He’ll be one of the first players to come off the bench during Monday’s 11 p.m. clash against Georgetown (2-0) in the first round of the Maui Invitational.

“Georgetown is an athletic team,” Wesley said. “The key for us is to execute our offense, which we didn’t do a great job of against Kentucky. We know what we have to do: execute our offense, be focused and sound.”

Self likes the sound of that.

“To me, the most pleasant surprise ... he will not be a numbers guy for us, but based on what he can give, Justin Wesley has been our most solid performer off the bench,” Self said.

About Georgetown: Big East Conference member Georgetown has victories over Savannah State (83-54) and UNC-Greensboro (86-45). Coach John Thompson III’s Hoyas are led by junior forward Hollis Thompson (16.0 ppg, 66.7 percent shooting), senior center Henry Sims (6.5 rpg, 4.0 apg) and senior guard Jason Clark (13.0 ppg). . ... Georgetown is located in Washington, D.C., and has an enrollment of 15,318.


Alohahawk 10 years, 6 months ago

One game at a time, Hawks. Georgetown is the only team you need to focus on right now.

However, for us fans, if KU beats Georgetown (in Maui), they play the winner of the UCLA - Chaminade game. Reeves Nelson, whom UCLA sat out during their last game for creating internal problems, was allowed to make the trip to Maui. Obviously, UCLA, already 0 and 2 against substandard competition, couldn't afford to lose to Chaminade, a Division II team.

Although I live in Hawaii, I know nothing about Chaminade's team.

And as I mentioned in another thread, come on KU. I need to claim bragging rights here in the islands.

DDDHawk 10 years, 6 months ago

Keep up the great work, Justin! And Alohahawk, send all your best Hawaii vibes to the Hawks while they are there!

Woody Cragg 10 years, 6 months ago

I sure like this young man. Sounds as if his BB IQ is way up there. Really good athlete & pedigree make him a huge asset & contributor for a much needed role player who's role will change as he continues to mature. Model of a guy who can get lots of boards & paint points by playing fundament ball around the rim. Again, I really, really like this young man. Kids like this are fun to coach-they'll do most anything you ask and their performance often makes you look better also. No matter how hard you work as a coach, there are always some kids that just don't click on the X's & O's. IMO Justin is not one of those kids.

Self4Prez 10 years, 6 months ago

Wow, Wesley's attitude is superb. I hope this kid develops into a great all around player and leader.

REHawk 10 years, 6 months ago

Justin and family certainly do seem to have made a wise move in his latching onto Bill Self and Danny Manning tutelage. We gained a player with huge genetic upside which already is on display. Congratulations, Justin, on your early development as a dependable player on this year's squad. Defense is the key to gaining lotsa minutes. Your offense will gradually fall into place. Feed those shooters!

REHawk 10 years, 6 months ago

I'm betting that sometime before season's end, we will see a double/double from this walk-on player...and many more before he graduates.

KEITHMILES05 10 years, 6 months ago

The kid just goes out and plays his heart out and amazingly stays calm and doesn't get all caught up in the glamor. Keep it up my man.

KEITHMILES05 10 years, 6 months ago

The kid just goes out and plays his heart out and amazingly stays calm and doesn't get all caught up in the glamor. Keep it up my man.

ClydeTurnbuckle 10 years, 6 months ago

I've been saying this since he got here: I like the cut of his jib.

jaybate 10 years, 6 months ago

Alright, from here on out you are chief jib analyst!

jayhawker97 10 years, 6 months ago

right on, my man Mr Wesley. it's fundamental. it'll get you rewarded with minutes and minutes of worthy playing time. and most of all, with the athleticism you have, the numbers will come automatically. we can see that in you. keep it up, young man! rock chalk!!

jaybate 10 years, 6 months ago

Think Rodman without the weird, Justin.

Rodman without the weird.

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