Jeff Withey went from an afterthought to a legitimate first-round prospect. Withey's interior presence helped make the Kansas Jayhawks the threat they were on the 2013 national landscape, and now he'll try and convince NBA teams that his strengths will translate from one level to the next.
Though Withey isn't as glamorous as some of the others in the field, he offers a sense of safety and reliability that might cause a team to bite.
He finished his senior year averaging 13.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.9 blocks on 58 percent shooting.
Withey isn't much of an athlete, but he's coordinated and 7'0''. He also as a 7'2'' wingspan, which the NBA guys love.
Though only 222 pounds, Withey uses every ounce of it to gain better position inside. Since he's not much of an athlete or shot-creator, the closer to the hoop he gets, the more comfortable he becomes.
Watch Withey go into beast mode and plow over his defender:
Withey averaged 3.9 blocks per game, good for third in the country. He's not the first guy with 7'0''/7'2'' measurements, either. Withey just has an incredible ability to anticipate. He knows when his man is going to shoot before the shooter even knows.
This helps make him an on-ball shot-blocker. It's usually easier to swat a shot as a weak-side defender, but Withey's reach and anticipation allow him to swat shots as an on-ball defender.
Watch how he guesses where and when his man is going to shoot:
As an off-ball shot-blocker, Withey anticipates just as well. He's able to read the play that's happening in front of him and better position himself as a safety net rim protector.
Though his foot speed isn't exactly quick, his footwork is sharp. Withey makes the necessary slides and steps to position himself for a shot block or challenge.
He anticipates and moves well from high to low post. Watch how Withey sniffs out the drive, slides alongside the, quicker, penetrating guard and redirects his layup:
Low-Post Footwork, Scoring
He's not considered a scorer, but Withey is more than capable of converting offense inside. Most of his points do come from dump-offs, but he's worth feeding the ball to if he's got position down low.
Withey has a soft touch with both hands around the rim. He can turn over either shoulder for baby and running hooks in the paint.
Note Withey's footwork here as he gives his defender the old "up-and-under" before finishing easily with his left:
Withey puts his nifty footwork on display again, making a countermove to open up a better look with his left hand:
When Withey has room to launch himself at the rim, he takes advantage of it. Though he's not a great athlete, he's got he size, length and coordination to really throw it down with authority. He's got that killer instinct as a finisher, and if possible, he'll attack the rim like he's mad at it.
Withey isn't much of a threat offensively beyond the foul line. If you've ever seen him practice, you know he's capable of knocking down mid-range jumpers, but he hasn't shown it during gameplay. I'm guessing it's something teams will learn during individual workouts. Regardless, implementing a mid-range jumper could do wonders for his playing time at the next level.
Though many project Withey as a first-rounder, his ceiling is awfully low. His athletic limitations could cause teams to hesitate. Withey projects as a backup center and nothing more. Teams looking to make a splash in Round 1 are probably going to look elsewhere.
Draft Breakdown and NBA Outlook
Withey had a fantastic senior year after flying under the radar as an NBA prospect. He was a catalyst and anchor for Kansas throughout the year, providing the team with an interior presence on both sides of the ball.
Nobody targeting Withey is looking for the next big thing. Those interested in his services will be looking for a backup center, which half the teams in the league could use.
He'll likely get looks starting with Atlanta and Cleveland in the mid-to-late first round.