Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Time to shine: Withey’s long wait, hard work paying off

Kansas University center Jeff Withey talks with media during interviews Tuesday, March 27, 2012, outside the KU team locker room. The KU men's basketball team heads to New Orleans Wednesday in advance of the Final Four.

Kansas University center Jeff Withey talks with media during interviews Tuesday, March 27, 2012, outside the KU team locker room. The KU men's basketball team heads to New Orleans Wednesday in advance of the Final Four.


The college basketball dream Jeff Withey lives — preparing to go to the Final Four after swatting so many key shots that helped his team reach New Orleans — started more like a nightmare packed with cruel teases.

His signed out of Horizon High in San Diego to play for Lute Olson at Arizona, and when the Hall of Fame coach retired, Withey wanted out. The school initially told him he would not be granted a release from his scholarship. His father, Mike, was five minutes from hiring an attorney to try to make it happen when his son finally was set free in December 2008.

Because he had enrolled at Arizona, Withey was not eligible to join the Kansas basketball team on the court until second semester of his redshirt-freshman year, on Dec. 29, 2009 against Belmont. Already playing behind Cole Aldrich, Marcus and Markieff Morris and Thomas Robinson in the frontcourt, Withey’s workout time lost that fall because of a right-knee stress fracture didn’t help. He appeared in 15 games and played 45 minutes in the 2009-2010 season, showing promise by totaling 19 points, 21 rebounds and six blocked shots. Other than in an eight-point, five-rebound effort in 12 minutes of a victory in Ames, Iowa, he never played double-digit minutes.

The departure of Aldrich to the NBA that summer gave Withey a shot at significantly more playing time as a sophomore, but bad luck again hunted down the 7-footer. He broke the metatarsal in his right foot during individual workouts in late September 2010, had surgery and spent several weeks on crutches while his teammates became better.

He needed to gain weight but lost 15 pounds.

“I was stuck in bed,” Withey said. “I couldn’t really move. It was hard to get to the kitchen. It was hard to get anywhere. My armpits were sore just from crutching everywhere. Coming into that year, I thought I was going to be a big contributor, and then I had the foot problem, and it set me back so far I felt like I just kind of lost my chance to contribute and play. It was really depressing.”

Withey reached double-digit minutes in six games and never scored in double figures. He didn’t play in two of the four 2011 NCAA Tournament games and played two minutes apiece in the other games, both blowouts.

Now look at him. Midway through Withey’s junior season, in February, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association named him the Oscar Robertson national player of the week after he scored a career-high 25 points against Baylor and had a career-best 20 rebounds against Oklahoma State. In his next game, he had 18 points, 11 rebounds and nine blocked shots against Kansas State.

Withey earned Big 12 defensive player of the year honors. Not many 7-footers shoot technical free throws for their teams, but Withey does, thanks to a .794 percentage from the line.

In playing Kansas into the Final Four, Withey blocked 10 shots in a three-point victory against North Carolina State and had 15 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in a 13-point victory against North Carolina’s ballyhooed front line. His defensive dominance played a big part in UNC making one of its final 14 shots and none of its last seven. His two blocked shots in the final minutes triggered fast breaks. He earned first-team All-Midwest Region honors, along with Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor.

Withey credits his volleyball experience — starting on the beach in his middle school years and progressing to indoor volleyball on a club team (which cost his parents $500 a month) — for developing the timing to block shots. He not only blocks shots, he sometimes uses the blocks to start fast breaks by tapping the ball forward. He even has been known to block a shot, catch it and toss it ahead to get KU’s speedy guards on their way.

All the setbacks along the way to becoming such a force in college basketball were not time wasted, according to Withey.

“It definitely made me a lot tougher,” he said. “When I come out and play, I don’t take it for granted at all.”

He credited his coach with playing a role in his increased toughness as well.

The most publicized instance of Bill Self’s fury aimed Withey’s way came in a practice after the center went scoreless in the loss to Missouri in Columbia on Feb. 4. Self made Withey run every step of Allen Fieldhouse, just before the center went on a tear that earned him national honors.

“It definitely makes you pretty upset,” Withey said. “After that, I had something to prove to him.”

Self still finds ways to prod his center into a foul mood.

“He definitely challenges me all the time, in practice, before the game,” Withey said. “He knows how to get me hyped up before a game. Sometimes, I definitely need that. That challenge gets me going. Sometimes it’s hard to jump-start my motor. I’m laid-back, so it’s hard for me to get, I guess, super angry and ready for games. It’s kind of easy now that we’re in the tournament.”

Self starts the motor. Withey’s dunks and blocked shots spark it to a higher speed.

“Those are really emotional plays and those get me fired up and get the fans fired up,” Withey said. “Whenever the fans get fired up, that helps me too. I feed off the energy of the crowd.”

And the team feeds off his defensive dominance.


KULA 10 years, 8 months ago

Ah Jeff--my new project. I've been disgruntled the last two years at his lack of playing time. Couldn't ever understand it, cuz I don't think I've ever seen him look bad in his limited playing time (how bad can you look in two minutes?). I fully expected him to play the same roll that Cole did in '08--come in for 4 minutes per half, spell the starters and gain some valuable game experience. And the high/low between Jeff and Cole would've been(and was in limited exposure) simply unstoppable. I felt like Bill wasted his first two years. Especially when it looked to me like Jeff was more agile than Cole, could run the floor better, had a better shooting touch and would probably end up being a better shot blocker. But that's all water under the bridge now. I'm just a fan watching on TV. Bill sees him every day in practice and made his decision. Maybe it was just his laid back San Diego lifestyle (I can understand that) that held him back. But it's amazing to see Jeff blossoming now and turning into a force.

They need to start a new stat for Jeff--blocked shots that result in a turnover. I've never seen a player block so many shots and come down with possession, or tap it out to a teammate. You can bet if a player back east had as many as Jeff, you'd never hear the end of it from the TV talking heads.

ParisHawk 10 years, 8 months ago

That's volleyball again: you have to block the ball to the other side of the net, and inbounds. Watch how Withey swipes: so often it's right toward the other basket.

He has another technique that doesn't come from volleyball, though: when he cups his hand over the ball. The ball stays right in front of him, in play.

The only slight problem is that when the other team gets the ball back they are right under the basket, whereas the block out of bounds resets offense and defense. That's also why Withey can get more than one block per possession.

aznguyen316 10 years, 8 months ago

Extremely great analysis. I've noticed all those things, especially the second part about keeping the block in play. Nothing upsets me more than a nice Withey block only for the opponent to find the ball again and put up an easy layup. But that's how it goes. I'd rather have the block to put some doubt into the opponent's minds about coming down the paint to the hoop. :)

Duke Christoffersen 10 years, 8 months ago

As a beach volley player, I have to laugh (with joy) every time I see Withey get ready to block a shot. His timing and technique is phenomenal. I would hate to face him on either court.

jhox 10 years, 8 months ago

Don't underestimate his weight being a factor keeping him off the floor in past seasons. I recall a picture from Maui, earlier this season, of the guys messing around in the ocean, and thinking, "Dang, Withey looks like a man out there." Hudy has taken a skinny weakling, and turned him into a guy who isn't afraid to bang with anyone. I think she's played as big a role in his development as anyone, including Coach Self and Coach Manning.

Jayhawk444 10 years, 8 months ago

Withey has lost a bunch of weight since Maui. Not as much time for weights during the season, and that off-season muscle he showed off on the beach is mostly gone now.

Travis Shinkle 10 years, 8 months ago

He's kind of like KU's "Darth Vader"...teams can feel his presence anytime they venture near the paint.

It comes as really no surprise why KU is winning on their really tough defense. Not only does he block shots well, he alters even more shots. How many teams will attempt a pull-up from 10-15 versus trying to take it closer in? Because of that, the guards know that the area they need to lock-down their responsibility is much smaller, which in turn they can concentrate even if they're beat, they know they have backup, aka Darth, waiting behind them...

jayhawker_97 10 years, 8 months ago

no need to comment his tenacious D. he's another freakin' beast. on a side note, i see more & more guards penetration from our team. that's good - very good. but don't forget that we've got bigs who are waiting to be fed. EJ knows how to pass to our bigs when he sees bigs defenders coming. TT needs to just lob the ball when he's being sandwitched - somebody will pick it up. Withey has gotten so much better in anticipating the interior passes. i'm so hungry to see him rip apart the basket like he did vs NC. let's go Jayhawk!

KUWorldTraveler 10 years, 8 months ago

Just FYI, looks like we're out on Shabazz. I'd link to the article but it's an ESPN Insider article with Dave Telep. Says Shabazz is down to UCLA, Duke, and Kentucky (in no order). Not shocked at all, and I don't think it's that big of a loss. I'm over having one-and-dones coming to KU. The last two haven't worked out that great. Gimme a three year guy any day.

REHawk 10 years, 8 months ago

Or five year guy. We are accumulating a bunch of players who red shirt or sit out a year due to transferring. Next season, Withey, Releford, BenMac, Jamari, Justin. Recently, Teahan, Little, Morningstar. By the time these five year guys depart (if indeed they do stay five years) they know Bill Self's system well enough to become assistant coaches.

tis4tim 10 years, 8 months ago

Kentucky turns over their entire roster every year and Austin Rivers just announced his intention to turn pro, so the playing time will be there for him at either of those schools. Self guarantees nothing. No surprise.

ku1otaku 10 years, 8 months ago

"The last two [one & dones] haven't worked out that great."

Could someone please explain to me again why people keep saying that Xavier Henry didn't work out that great? This is getting real old. I get that the team flamed out in the 2nd round and that X may have been part of the reason, but so was Sherron Collins trying to do everything on his own. I guess I fail to understand why the X-Project was such a big failure that everyone makes it out to be.

REHawk 10 years, 8 months ago

Not "everyone." I, for one, was pleased with X's effort and performance. The kid appeared to love KU, and was emotional about his having to grab the brass ring and move on. The situation, with pushy parent and big dollar NBA lottery allure, made for a sad situation for that kid. His arrival pretty much forced Releford and Little to opt for a red shirt. Just imagine what a missing link the current team would face if Travis had graduated on schedule last spring! So, in regard to Releford's current availability, the X factor might have made for more wins and grins in 2011-12. That said, I still am opposed to signing one and done hoopsters. What I love most about Jayhawk basketball is the longterm bonding, fan to player...and coach. Quick turnovers are like throwaway wristwatches.

Alohahawk 10 years, 8 months ago

? Wouldn't Travis have been a senior this year, if he hadn't have red-shirted? Whatever, his presence this year has definitely made this team a contender. And should add much to next year's success.

HawkKlaw 10 years, 8 months ago

The reason people say that is because when someone like Xavier comes to KU (#6, 7 or 8 overall depending on what rankings you look at), we expect him to play huge every game. That's not how it was for Henry. He was "pretty good" most of the time, but he scored just 13pts a game. That's good, but for a one-and-done most people expect more than that.

The problem, especially at a place like Kansas, is that the expectations are too high to begin with. Xavier played well for KU and should be remembered fondly for doing so, but the reason why people say it didn't work out "great" is because they expected so much from him.

I'm opposed to one-and-dones for a different reason. We've seen plenty of mid-major schools with no one-and-dones on the roster make it deep in the tournament. Also, minus Carmello Anthony, one-and-dones don't directly link to tournament success. So give me 5 starters who have a lot of experience (think Russell Robinson, Sherron Collins, Darnell Jackson, Sasha Kaun, etc) over 5 starters who are only in it to propel their draft stock (think Selby and X) any day.

The funny thing is, people say they don't want one-and-dones, yet they get upset when KU misses out on a guy like Shabazz. You can't have it both ways! haha

ku1otaku 10 years, 8 months ago

Yeah, but is 13 ppg really that bad coming in on a team with Sherron Collins & Cole Aldrich? I mean, Austin Rivers only average 15 ppg at Duke this past year and wasn't he the #1 recruit?

I agree, I'm not crazy about recruiting one-and-dones either, but I just don't see Xavier Henry as much of a "fail" as it appears SOME posters made it out to be.

HawkKlaw 10 years, 8 months ago

No, 13pts a game with Sherron and Cole leading the team is not bad at all. In fact it's great, because that means he was wise enough to let two more experienced guys lead the team.

But when a freshman makes it known that he's going jump ship to the NBA after one season, we expect big, NBA-type numbers every night, fair or not.

And for the record, X was not a complete fail in my book. I enjoyed watching him play for the Hawks.

ku_foaf 10 years, 8 months ago

Nothing wrong with Xavier, he did well. He was just there a short time, so he really isn't so significant to KU basketball in the long run. Josh Selby even slightly less time, as he didn't play for a few weeks.

Nothing against these guys at all. They came, they played, they left. I will remember Xavier because he is Carl's son, but confess I will probably have a hard time associating Josh with KU 15 years from now.

zsn 10 years, 8 months ago

i don't necessarily agree that there was "Nothing wrong with Xavier" - yes, he had a good attitude but I think both him and Selby regressed during their year at KU (more Selby than Xavier). Their best games were in the beginning of the season. They both became severely one-dimensional as the season progressed (JRGidden-itis - "when-in-doubt-jack-it-up"). I would even go to the extent to say that they negatively impacted team chemistry to some degree, although the last point is arguable.

The beauty of this team is that it is a TEAM. Haven't seen that (to this extent) in my nearly-30 years of following KU bball - the 1990-1 team comes close.

KUWorldTraveler 10 years, 8 months ago

You'll note I didn't say "they haven't worked out that good". I said "they haven't worked out that great." Anthony Davis is a one and done that has helped get UK within a sniff of the national title. Ditto Derrick Rose, among others. Xavier and Selby aren't even in the same class as those two based on college results. That's all I was saying.

Kevin Huffman 10 years, 8 months ago

I'd heard people say that Tony Parker still has interest. But even with Robinson gone & assuming Withey stays we'll be pretty loaded in the frontcourts w/ Wesley, P.Ellis, K.Young, Traylor, Withey, Z.Peters & Lucas (I think he was a "?" w/ eligibility).

The need is much greater in the backcourt where right now for next season they'd have Elijah hopefully sticking around and not leaving early and being the full-time starting PG (would help his NBA Draft stock too I would think), Tharpe being his backup (need to see IMMENSE improvement there), McLemore most likely the starting 2-Guard & Anrio Adams (assuming he qualifies w/ the ACT) backing him up. Maybe Andrew White could play a little 2-Guard but in seeing his body he looks more like a SF. In a pinch Releford could play a little "2" also.

If there's a quality late signeed PG/SG type.....that's what we need for next season.

Adam Bengtson 10 years, 8 months ago

The only decent news I can say on the Tony Parker front is Ellis & him are really good friends. Now whether Ellis is promoting Kansas is another story. Ellis doesn't talk much.

hawksince51 10 years, 8 months ago

+2 Let UK and others deal with the problems created by the OAD's. They always have to start even if they do not really deserve it, thus denying minutes to those who deserve it and will be around awhile. Self's system is too complex for these guys to learn in a few months so they are lost on the court and thus do not live up to expectations. And then even when they contribute nothing and really should have to stay another year to prove themselves, the NBA drafts them in the first round on so-called "potential." After watching 4 so-called mid-majors beat us in the NCAAs over the past 8 or so years, it is clear to me that the majors under value players who stay for 4 years.

HAWKTOPIA 10 years, 8 months ago

Jeff has come a long way. But he still has so much potential. You can see him "Manning" up around the basket, but he needs to become more powerful. I really appreciate that he does not reach in too much and stands tall, trying to stay out of foul trouble. Jeff has also had an inspirational role in raising the expectation of every player to convert free throws.

One player can be the difference for a team. Be that player!

We only need to win one more game. The next game!

Rock Chalk

nuleafjhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

Atl - I STILL scream at him !! Maybe not as loud now. But - dang it - when you're 7' tall, forget the layup and finger-roll crap - DUNK the ball !!!

But - I am so proud of him and the way he's developed this year. It's nice to be very confident in a big man (or anybody really) when they step to the free-throw line.


Vernon Riggs 10 years, 8 months ago

I was yelling at TRob that he didn't have to monster dunk every ball, a finger roll works better sometimes. He first two dunk attempts in the UNC game were failures.

nuleafjhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

Lol - that's a great point too !! Now what? Can we have them climb a ladder and just set it into the basket?

Seriously, I think T-Rob tries to be TOO aggressive some times and loses focus and Withey seems to be not aggressive enough.

Martin Rosenblum 10 years, 8 months ago

I'm surprised that DManning's name was not mentioned at all in this story. Hudy's name was also absent. If ever there were factors responsible for such a turnaround that were the team's assets, it would be directly related to those two people. Jeff has the physical gifts. But, his development couldn't have happened without Danny's daily oversight and Hudy's attention to his needs for strength conditioning. Of course, HCBS provides the motivation and strategic guidance that Jeff admits he needs and appreciates.

Just think, Jeff is two games away from doing what the Morris twins didn't do and that Cole, as a freshman, had little influence in, a National Championship. What a story, what a turnaround! This Is Kansas Basketball!

REHawk 10 years, 8 months ago

One of my finest viewing memories from recent NCAA Tourneys was that awe-inspiring insertion of Cole into the semifinal contest with the Tarheels. I had no DVR back then to record that performance, but replay much of it from memory. Rush and D-Block were so amused at the postgame press conference that they had trouble grasping the true significance of Cole's emergence.

Alohahawk 10 years, 8 months ago

Know what you mean. I recorded the games, (Davidson, N.Carolina and Memphis) and have watched them numerous times. Some of the post game interviews were funny, especially the ribbing Cole received from Rush, after he spouted praise over the abilities of Tyler Hansborough (sp).

Lash 10 years, 8 months ago

I wonder if the we would be in this position if Twins stayed. This group is good mix. Feeling better about Saturday every day it gets closer.

10 years, 8 months ago

Good point. Also, how would we have been had Selby stuck around? I recall wondering the same thing regarding how our '07-'08 team would have fared had Wright remained for his junior year.

Possibly conversely, how would our '02-'03 team have been had Gooden stayed for his senior year? Do we beat Syracuse in the finale, or do we even get that far?

dylans 10 years, 8 months ago

If KU goes that far they beat SU by making a few frickin' free throws. Their tired legs cost KU the game, not Caremelo.

dylans 10 years, 8 months ago

I mean yes Gooden would have helped that team.

10 years, 8 months ago

I tend to agree with you and hawksince51 below.

hawksince51 10 years, 8 months ago

The 2008 team was better off losing Wright so the "right" guy, D Jackson, could play front court giving us enough size up front to use D. Arthur instead of Sasha with him. I was never sure which one was playing the 4 or 5. With Wright at the 4 I believe Sasha would have started at the 5.
With Gooden we would have won the NC in 2003. I may be wrong but I'm not in doubt.

Gene Jackson 10 years, 8 months ago

This story should be an inspiration to any aspiring basketball player wanting to play at the college level. Way to go, Jeff!

clevelandjayhawker 10 years, 8 months ago

I always say im never going to read another keegan article, then i give in. I never learn.

"....North Carolina’s ballyhooed front line." WTF does that mean?

Keep the dream alive, beat ohio state.

10 years, 8 months ago

That’s probably a nugget for all the denizens of Bill Mayerville :-)

Eliott Reeder 10 years, 8 months ago

Ha! I had already copied that and was going to paste and comment on the same ridiculous sentence. Keegan (the editor) could really use an editor...

Chris Shaw 10 years, 8 months ago

In the 4 postseason games in the NCAA tournament, Jeff Withey is leading the country in Blocks and is currently tied for 6th all-time in blocks in a single NCAA Tournament. Pretty Impressive if you ask me!

For the year though, Withey has 129 blocks in 37 games and Davis has 175 blocks in 38 games thus far

Davis has already made the list, but what he's done this year as a Freshmen is pretty darn impressive. Here are the all-time block leaders in one season. I guess these type of numbers haven't been done except Alonzo Mourning when he was a freshman! Wow!'s_basketball_season_blocks_leaders

Took me forever to find this, but here is the current list. Jeff Withey doing some damage. You would think he could at least get 2 against OSU to move into 4th. May not be there long considering what Davis does?

Most Blocked Shots •29, Joakim Noah, Florida, 2006 (6 games) •24, Loren Woods, Arizona, 2001 (6 games) •23, David Robinson, Navy, 1986 (4) •21, Ken Johnson, Ohio State, 1999 (5) •21, Kevin Love, UCLA, 2008 (5) •20, Tim Perry, Temple, 1988 (4

Interesting stats if you want to take a look

Steve Gantz 10 years, 8 months ago

I'm a stat freak, so I love these, thanks for sharing. How about Robinson's averaging almost 6 a game in '86?!

Chris Shaw 10 years, 8 months ago

Robinson was a beast! With that said, What Davis has done this season is pretty remarkable as well! But yes, Robinson was a freak! You know what's crazy is that even though Robinson went through a major growth spurt in college, Davis did the same all in the last 3 years.

ForwardThinker 10 years, 8 months ago

J Dub is playing far less minutes than Mr. Davis, so I wonder what his total would be with similar minutes. I still say our team would have been better off with him on the floor against Purdue, but whatever. We're in the Final Four baby!!!!! Rock Chalk On Hawks!!!!!!!!!

UmbertoConforti 10 years, 8 months ago

The "smart money" has KU a two and one-half point underdog against OSU. It has Louisville and even larger underdog against Kentucky. Here's hoping for a KU v. Louisville final. I think that the last year Louisville won it all KU beat them in pre-season NIT but lost to Duke in the fnal four. That's the game where Duke unintentionally injured Archie Marshall ending his BB career and a foul wasn't called. I hope my memory is working today. Go Jayhawks, Go Cardinals.

Al Salazar 10 years, 8 months ago

KU beat Louisville twice that season, prior to both teams making the Final Four that year.

Marcia Parsons 10 years, 8 months ago

Did you say unintentionally? I always thought they did it on purpose. Two of them scissored his leg. They may not have meant to end his career, but they had to have known they were going to injure him.

DCLawHawk 10 years, 8 months ago

Exactly. I thought the injury to Archie Marshall was one of the main reasons why KU fans who have been following the team since at least the mid-80s despise Duke and Coach Consonants so much. The Blue Devils play dirty quite often and that time it cost a much-beloved Jayhawk his basketball career.

Sally Presson 10 years, 8 months ago

This article just shows us there is always a flip side to a situation. Glad you suck with us Jeff through all your injuries and healing. Your hard work is paying off and boy do we need you. Thank goodness we have you next year. KU fans have so much to be thankful for with this team, you guys are amazing!!!

justinryman 10 years, 8 months ago

Glad you suck with us Jeff through all your injuries and healing

But we don't suck and either does Jeff, why are you so mean to us??

Just kidding man, I saw the typo and it made me laugh. honest mistake, just had to take advantage of it and have a laugh.

I agree with your post, very well said.

Alohahawk 10 years, 8 months ago

sallyp, there was a post made a week or so ago about the police being called to check the screaming of an elderly lady. Turned out she was so into a KU game, and her screaming so loud, that the neighbors became concerned and contacted the police. I remember you mentioned, I believe it was before the KU at MU game, that you planned to attend that game. By chance, you weren't that lady that the police had to check on, were you? Thought of you when I read the post. No matter what age, once a Jayhawk, always a Jayhawk.

Tony Bandle 10 years, 8 months ago

I know my good buddy,Jaybate, gets criticized on this post, but he was and has stayed on the Jeff Withey bandwagon long before any of us hopped on and off and on again.

JB, if you see this post, if Jeff continues his heroics for the next two games, does he go NBA with TRob and TT or does he come back as one of the premier college big man in the natiion next year??

Tony Bandle 10 years, 8 months ago

PS Please include in the equation winning or losing the National Championship this year.

justinryman 10 years, 8 months ago

I will give you my answer on Jeff.

If he continues his pace in the final four, with blocks and rebounds and adding 8 to 10 points a game I would have to think that he goes from undrafted if he left in December, all the way to a low 1st round pick.

But Jeff is different than a lot of kids, he may have two great games and still stay, it just may be the SoCal kid in him.

Selfishly I want him to stay, but if he has the chance to live out a dream I will not hold that against him.

Chris Shaw 10 years, 8 months ago

If Jeff is a first round pick, that is a very difficult decision. I mean, if he can get guaranteed that he is a first round pick than I say you really consider leaving.

I love the way Withey is playing, but T-Rob and and J-Wit compliment each other nicely. I would just hate to see T-Rob leave and then J-Wit struggle next year trying to be the focal point.

Look, J-Wit will never be the focal point at center in the NBA. He is going to be a defensive stopper that will ocassionaly get some points in role playing type minutes, similar to a Nick Collison IMO.

I would just hate to see J-Wit's stock drop next year trying to be the focal point. On the flip side, maybe he improves so much over the summer that he takes his offensive game to a new level. It's a very interesting topic to say the least.

Kye Clark 10 years, 8 months ago

I think if he stays, Self knows enough to not force him into being the focal point of the offense. Which isn't to say that if he stays I don't expect his offensive game to improve, but Self knows Withey is never going to fit into the mold of a Simien, McMorris, or TRob. My guess is that we'll see a role similar to Cole's junior year, where eventually one of the other post players (my guess would be Ellis) assumes more of the scoring burden.

REHawk 10 years, 8 months ago

I predict that Jeff's biggest statistical improvement will show up in the rebound column. We just might see a few triple doubles next season. He will get fouled enough to bolster his point totals. And, yeah, as for our big men, Ellis probably will carry much of the scoring load, game in and out. Elijah and BenMac will probably chip in for much of the scoring. I hope to see Withey back in a Jayhawk singlet next season, working his way toward lottery consideration. Has been a real joy watching him step up this season. I still hope to watch him and Thomas play off each other rewardingly in these next 2 games. (TWO GAMES!)

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago


Thanks for teeing one up for me.

Withey is 50/50 and that's obviously why Self is still recruiting big men.

Withey is barely heavy enough and strong enough for D1, so he is by definition not ready for the NBA in a conventional sense.

But the NBA drafts bigs on spec all the time. And when you look around D1 this season, after TRob, Davis, Royce Smith, Sullenger, Fab Melo, maybe the guy on Duke and the guy at Baylor, who is next? Jeff.

And if you look at who actually has the height needed to play the post in the NBA, either starting, or backing up, after Davis, who is there? Jeff.

And if you think about who has the strength and weight to play NBA post out of the box in this year's draft, there is no one. Both Davis and Jeff are too skinny and will take at least two years of serious weight work while in the NBA to ever be able to bang with Dwight Howard. Davis is closer to being ready than Jeff, though, though probably surprising to many, I think Jeff could have a better NBA career than Davis, if Jeff can ever solve his strength and weight deficiencies.

So what you are left with is this: Jeff shouldn't be drafted in the first round, because he is way too weak and light, but he almost certainly will be drafted first round, if he enters the draft.

So: the decision will really come down to Jeff and his folks. They know Jeff is not physically ready for the NBA, but they also know how easy it would be for him to get injured playing another season of D1 bang ball.

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

And if Jeff thinks Thomas has taken a licking this season, he is in for the same, or worse next season. And next year, he is very likely not to have someone as intimidating as Thomas to keep the thug ballers off him.

If I am Jeff Withey, I don't have to talk to Bill, or Danny. Its already obvious what they think. They think what Jeff thinks. He's still too light and too weak and needs to come back and beef up and hard wire a sky hook.

Who I would be talking with, if I were Jeff, are Hudy and two other weight trainers independent of KU. I would want to get a consensus on how much weight I can gain and feasibly play at next season? If its less than 25 pounds, it doesn't pay to stick around, because he'll still be too light and weak to guard the post in the NBA.

IMHO, the only reason to stay at KU another season is to build himself up 25-35 pounds, throw enough elbows to crack the eye sockets of some of the the thuggers to show he's got a mean streak, and then be the Number 1 draft choice.

Cole wasn't nearly the player his last season that he was his first as a starter, but watching him elbow thuggers, really intimidate thuggers, was what got him his high draft choice. The NBA guys all new he was too short. But they knew he had a good wing span, could rebound and guard the post, seemed then to be good on hedge defense (though he proved far too slow on hedge for the NBA), they reckoned he could be muscled up on top, and they loved that he scared the shizz out of thuggers in D1. He was a good risk as a long term back-up. He was a get better kind of guy, who was willing to crack eye sockets. He might even become a starter some day. Draft him.

Jeff does not yet have that rep for cracking eye sockets, so he will not be taken high in the first round even if KU wins the ring.

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

If Jeff gains anything less than 25 pounds for next season, then he'll be a skinny project drafted low first round next year, and so he would make more money going low this year, rather than waiting to go a little higher next year. Jeff would do well to collect a check like Cole for a few years flitting in and out of the D-League, while he eats heavy, bulks up, and then has a 10-15 year long career as a back-up, unless he can finally get his weight to 260-270, and still block shots.

Ostertag proved that you don't have to be strong to stay in the L forever, if you weigh 260 and can block shots.

Nick Collison and Scott Pollard have proven that you can completely give up scoring, if you put the beef on and just give back-up minutes guarding the post and grabbing some boards.

Jeff and some skilled professional weight trainers have to decide what Jeff can gain this off season.

Winning the ring, if he were to give a good performance the last two games, would make them wave a little more money in his face and draft him a little higher, but the basic dynamic I have described above does not change.

To come back, he's got to believe he can add 25 pounds this off season, then play next year without a s serious injury, then add 25 the next off season, and hit the NBA around 260, as lottery pick. Were he to do this, with his savant-like shot blocking, his good shooting and free throwing touches, and his remarkable speed up and down the floor, he would be a high, high draft choice.

Anything less and he should go now, start collecting checks and building up while being paid to do so, there by avoiding a risk of injury next year, and no paychecks.

It will be a tough decision, because weight training experts can't tell you anything for sure.

But one thing he knows for sure: the thuggers will beat him up next year.

Finally, if Danny Manning shoves off, unless Jeff has been working with Wayne, or Scott Pollard, and they are pencilled in to replace Danny, I reckon Jeff's got to think, "Might as well go pro. Not likely going to be someone that can teach him much more than what Manning has already taught him."

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

Looks like DMann is going to be living on Tulsa Time.

The chances of Jeff jumping to the L just increased.

Stan Unruh 10 years, 8 months ago

Jeff is not even considering NBA. He's coming back for a great Senior year.

JayHawkFanToo 10 years, 8 months ago

And now, in honor of the San Diego surfer/volleyball player-Basketball beast dude, check the following for an uplifting experience...

Be sure to view the entire gallery.

Chris Shaw 10 years, 8 months ago

I am going to completely agree with Wooderson from Dazed and Confused, "I love those redheads, man".

PVJayhawk 10 years, 8 months ago

I looked at all the cheerleaders of the final 4 schools and my professional and unbiased assessment is as follows:

1st place---Kansas

2nd place (close)---Kentucky

3rd place (not close)---Ohio State/ Louisville (tie)

Jack Wilson 10 years, 8 months ago

However, no one can touch USC's squad ... a fond memory.

Steve Gantz 10 years, 8 months ago

Jeff's last two blocks may have been the easiest all season. The UNC guard foolishly, and I mean I was almost yelling at the little dude not to try it, he foolishly drove the lane twice, and if memory serves, Withey swatted them out to TT and EJ for two game clinching fast break layups.

I'm not sure I would have ever seen an article about Withey helping lead his team to the final 4! I'm glad I did though!

kdeutch 10 years, 8 months ago

First, let me say that I think a student athelete should stay all 4 years. However, after seeing the list of all the injuries for Jeff Withey, I would go to the NBA NOW if I was him.

Also, next year will be his 5th year, which probably will make him appear too old in the 2013 NBA draft. If Jeff projects to be a first round choice in the 2012 draft, I'm sorry to say, he MUST leave.

10 years, 8 months ago

Regarding whether Jeff Withey should go to the NBA after this season or not, here is a quick comparison of his stats so far this season to Cole Aldrich’s his junior (final) year:

Jeff (season): 24.4 min, 54.8% FG, 79.4% FT, 9.2 pts, 6.2 rebs, 3.5 bls (conference): 25.8 min, 53.8% FG, 80.7% FT, 10.3 pts, 6.6 rebs, 3.6 bls

Cole: 29.6 min, 59.8% FG, 79.2% FT, 14.9 pts, 11.1 rebs, 2.7 bls

In fairness, Withey has improved in the second half of the season. However, when comparing both players’ junior seasons as a whole, I would say the extent of Jeff flirting with the NBA should not go beyond submitting his name for the draft without hiring an agent so he can test the waters. With him most likely being relied on more next season, he has the potential of improving his NBA status significantly.

KGphoto 10 years, 8 months ago

And although he's making good money, Cole isn't exactly lighting up the NBA right now. Even though he's in his second season, he can barely get on the court and is often a DNP coaches decision.

10 years, 8 months ago

Precisely. So, unless Withey is able to land in a near perfect situation on an NBA team, he should wait another year and develop his game at KU.

Plusses of entering draft this year: * doesn’t risk injury * might get drafted late in first round and receive guaranteed contract

Plusses of waiting: * better developed game and physique * bigger numbers * higher draft position * more money * more NBA playing time * better bargaining power for second NBA contract

Kye Clark 10 years, 8 months ago

You're right, but another year at KU wasn't going to change that.

KansasComet 10 years, 8 months ago

Danny Manning to Tulsa. I guess it had to happen sooner or later.

Martin Rosenblum 10 years, 8 months ago

Danny has a plan. Rest assured, this is not where he will retire. Good first head coaching job. But, CUSA is dying on the vine and he knows realignment is eminant. The future is up to him and he'll stick to his plan.

Priest Fontaine 10 years, 8 months ago

funny it's taking so long to report Manning leaving.

Anyhow, I wonder why these coaches can't wait a few more days to announce this stuff. Isn't it kind of distracting for the upcoming games?

Regardless, anyone have the inside scoop on Manny's replacement?

First to come to mind: -Simien -Pollard -Jeff Boschee has been assistant coaching -Larry Brown has been expressing interest in coaching again and hanging around KU...

jaybate 10 years, 8 months ago

Brown coaching big men?

With his hips? :-)

Chris Shaw 10 years, 8 months ago

Pollard would be interesting, but he would have to do some type of Director of Operations I would think first. Just like when D. Manning started!

Martin Rosenblum 10 years, 8 months ago

Any rumors about Joe Dooley leaving? With Hinson and Manning gone, it seems odd that Dooley would not be under serious consideration for a HC job in a D1 school. I don't relish the idea of a "rebuilding" year on the coaching staff. But, it's going to happen when talent is there, as it obviously has been.

Jeeveshawk 10 years, 8 months ago

Jeff will be our best big next year and possibly our best player. Also we really need him to step up against Sully this weekend. Whats sad is he may not get to play because Deshaun Thomas creates mismatches at the four, so we may need to move TRob to the 5 to guard Sully and have Kevin play the four to guard D. Thomas on the perimeter.

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