Kansas Jayhawks Center Jeff Withey Is College Basketball's Rising Star

Farzin VousoughianContributor IIIApril 9, 2017

LAWRENCE, KS - DECEMBER 06:  Jeff Withey #5 of the Kansas Jayhawks in action during the game against the Long Beach State 49ers on December 6, 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

The Kansas Jayhawks have been primarily led by Thomas Robinson and Tyshawn Taylor this season. However, one Jayhawk has climbed his way to the top to help add to the dominance of his team.

Kansas center Jeff Withey is averaging 9.2 points per game on the season. Withey went scoreless in the loss at Missouri last week. Kansas wanted to bounce back the following Wednesday at Baylor to make a statement and get the season sweep over the Bears.

It was Withey who stepped up against Baylor to lift his team to a big win. Withey had a career-high of 25 points along with five rebounds and three blocked shots in Wednesday's 68-54 win.

On Saturday, the Jayhawks came back home to host Oklahoma State. Following a career-high of 25 points, Withey had the second-highest scoring performance of his career with 18 points. Withey also dominated defensively with career-high of 20 rebounds and seven blocks to help Kansas defeat Oklahoma State, 81-66.

In the last two games where Withey has stepped up for the Jayhawks, he averaged 21.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and five blocks.

Bill Self is loving the production he's receiving from Withey, a junior standing at seven feet.

Withey has 6.3 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game this year. Individually, he has made his case on the floor as to why he deserves the conference's Defensive Player of the Year award.

Withey has been predominant from the free-throw line all season, which is a rarity from centers in basketball as he has made over 80 percent of his free throws this year. Withey's free throws made an impact in games against Long Beach State, Texas, Texas A&M and in the second meeting against Baylor to help Kansas come out on top in close battles.

As the Jayhawks look ahead, they have high expectations to win their conference. Following the Big 12 tournament in Kansas City, Mo., the Jayhawks will most likely be favorites to reach the Final Four in New Orleans, La.

With the Jayhawks lacking a strong presence from their bench, Withey's recent strong level of play is exactly what Kansas needs. Withey might be the difference maker this year when it comes to helping the Jayhawks stay in the NCAA Tournament and help them advance deep in the Big Dance.