Jeff Withey, C, Kansas, 7’0”, 235 lbs
2012-13 Collegiate Stat Line: (stats courtesy ESPN.com)
13.7 points, 58% field goals, 71% free throws, 8.5 rebounds, 3.9 blocks, 2.0 turnovers
Jeff Withey spent his first three years at Kansas playing a much smaller role, playing alongside the Morris twins (Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris) and Thomas Robinson. It wasn’t until his senior season that Withey began to shine for the Jayhawks, being a dominant threat both on offense and defense. Although Ben McLemore got most of the spotlight for Kansas this past season, without Withey the Jayhawks would’ve been lost in the paint.
The most obvious strength for Withey is his size. Standing at 7-feet, his size and length help him on defense, altering opponent shots and making offenses uncomfortable attacking the paint. He’s also a great shot blocker, highlighted by his average of nearly four blocks per game. Withey constantly finds himself in solid position to disrupt the shot attempt.
Offensively, Withey is as efficient as you hope a big man can be. Withey finished 58 percent of his field-goal attempts because of his ability to be in great position to finish near the rim. Withey loves to post up his defenders, converting on nearly 45 percent of post-up shot attempts. He prefers the left block to the right block on his post-ups, but he’s consistent either way.
Withey is a savvy player, meaning he knows what he’s doing on the floor and how to go about his business. He adapts to situations very well, be it double teams, collapsed defenses or one-on-one matchups, Withey knows what he’s doing on the floor. He won’t ‘wow’ you with athleticism, but he’s intelligent and technically sound. He’ll get the job done for you.
Here’s the bad news for Withey: He is intelligent, but intelligence doesn’t always make up for that lack of athleticism. He’s tall and lanky, but doesn’t have a lot of muscle behind him. His length gives him an edge, but he’s been known to be pushed around on the block against more physical opponents. For example, in the great Elite Eight game against Michigan, freshman Mitch McGary had his way with Withey on the offensive end. McGary is a brute in the post and Withey had no chance to stop him.
Another potential knock on Withey is his lack of experience running the pick-and-roll game while at Kansas. NBA teams utilize the pick-and-roll offense so often it starts most every play for some teams. To put it into perspective, Withey was involved in only 22 pick-and-roll possessions all season at Kansas, less than one per game. That’s not enough to know if he can perform that offensive set in the NBA. It’s an unknown at this point for Withey.
Withey spent most of his career at Kansas being a role player. Whether or not he can be the man for an NBA team is also a question. He’s always played second, third or fourth fiddle under Bill Self. However, it is worth noting that Withey may not have to be a star. Many players enter the NBA and spend their entire careers being productive role players.
Potential Landing Spots:
Jeff Withey is currently being pegged as a late first- to early second-round selection. It’s unlikely he falls any lower than that and is quite possible his jumps up the board before the draft.
Teams That Make Sense:
Oklahoma City Thunder: Depending upon which direction the Thunder go with their 12th overall selection, OKC could go with Withey at the 29 slot. Withey would help allow the Thunder to transition away from Kendrick Perkins, who was a no-show during the playoffs. It would also pair Withey up with Serge Ibaka, creating what could possibly be one of the best shot blocking duos in the league. Food for thought, if you will.
Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavaliers somehow managed to get another first overall selection in this year’s draft, giving them many options throughout the draft. Aside from the first pick, Cleveland also has the 19, 31 and 33 picks, giving them a lot of room to grow their team. Picking Withey to help solidify an otherwise slim front court could help pay off greatly for the Cavaliers in the future.
Jeff Withey is a smart and talented big with plenty of room to grow in the NBA. He has a winning pedigree while playing at Kansas and is willing to do whatever needs to be done to help his team win. He’s at a pretty good spot and should be able to contribute right away to whichever team drafts him.