Know The Prospect: Jeff Withey

Gettin' Withey wid it. - Jamie Squire

It's really hot in New York. Let's take a look at this tall drink of water from Kansas, where the water is pure.

Folks, it's late right now. Like really late. Like The Shining is on and it's going to give me waking nightmares late. I'm tired, but I know I owe you guys a KTP. It's my civic duty, just like it was Keyshawn Johnson's civic duty to call the cops on that punk Justin Bieber. So I'll be damned if I don't give you a KTP, even if this one might resemble a shaky stingy d KTP (which we might be better for).

So far, we've taken looks at a point guard, a SG/SF, and a F. Those are nice positions and all, but why not mix it up even MORE? Let's look at a big old lug we can throw in the paint to block shots and just F some S up. Here's one candidate for big lug to draft: Kansas center Jeffree (yup, that's how he spells it) David Withey.

Before we delve deeper, just have a look at this chart (produced at Stat Sheet) and see if any of these qualities might be of interest for the Knicks:

Yeah, I could talk myself into that stuff. Let's get to know this guy.

The Rundown

Measurements: 6' 10.75" (w/o shoes), 7' 0.5" (w/shoes); 222 pounds; 7' 2" wingspan; 9' 2.5" standing reach; 29" max vert; 8.7% body fat

Projected Draft Position (as of right now): 22 on Draft Express, 36 on NBADraft.net, 25 at Pro Basketball Draft, 25 at SI.com

Actual Draft Profiles and Player Info: Draft Express, NBADraft.net, Stat Sheet, KU Player Page, Hickory High Player Comparison

Amateur Take - Offense: Withey isn't the most offensively gifted center in the field (that mark would probably go to Gonzaga's Kelly Olynyk, and not just because I'm a Gonzaga fan), but Withey can hold his own based on his strong finishing skills (According to DE, Withey was the top finisher in all of college basketball last season, converting 79% of non post-up situations). Withey uses his length and jumping ability to play above the rim well, and although he didn't display it much during the season (a modest 14 jump shots taken all season), he has the mechanics that could turn into a decent mid-range shot.

Another positive I found is Withey's increased FG% from his junior to senior years. With more integral role after the departure of Thomas Robinson, Withey saw a minutes increase (about 5 more minutes per game) and a shots increase (took 100 more shots than his junior year). His shooting percentage went up about 5 points, which is a positive sign in my book. Was it because of versatility? No. But he is still making the shots that he takes (58%, 62 TS%). That's important on the next level, especially if the Knicks actually look to use more PnR/drive-and-dish plays next year.

Withey isn't the best offensive rebounder, which is a slight downside for a player of his size, but you aren't drafting a player like Jeff Withey for his offense. You're drafting him for his...

Amateur Take - Defense: DEFENSE. Withey was maybe the best defensive center in all of college basketball last season, especially around the rim. Withey has great instincts as a shot blocker that probably stem from his volleyball background. His 7' 3" wingspan really helps with that, as does his timing. Over the last two seasons, Withey blocked 286 shots. That's a lot of shots, and Withey displays incredible intangibles as far as protecting the rim is concerned.

Oh, and guess where the Knicks finished last year in Blocks Per Game? DEAD LAST. Defense isn't all about blocks, obviously. But it doesn't hurt to swat some shit away every now and again, or at least change even more shots around the rim with another capable, athletic big man. Because of his length and standing reach, Withey is also incredibly disciplined when defending shots. He doesn't bite on pump fakes, and really doesn't commit many fouls (he led the NCAA in blocks-per-foul at 1.89 last year, and he only committed 2.1 fouls per game). The guy knows what he's doing.

Withey isn't just about blocking shots, though. He isn't as strong as other centers, but his length makes him an above-average post-defender. He has solid footwork too, showing good mobility while defending inside and on defending things like PnRs. He's also a very capable defensive rebounder, which is cool against teams that can offensive rebound and stuff.

From the Scouts: Taken from Jonathan Givony's profile linked above, expressing some of his legitimate concerns about Withey at the next level:

The NBA is a very different game, though, and Withey will have some major adjustments to make at the next level. For one, he is nowhere near as effective when opposing teams are able to force him to step outside the paint, something he rarely did as part of Kansas' game-plan. Against more talented guards, this could become a lot more of an issue, as we saw in the NCAA Tournament last week where Trey Burke was able to slice apart Kansas' defense primarily on the pick and roll. When Withey does step outside the paint, he appears very upright in his stance, and struggles to stay in front of speedier players with his seemingly average lateral quickness.

There's also the question of how he will he deal with the bigger and stronger back to the basket centers (ala Nikola Pekovic) he will encounter in the NBA, something he rarely had to deal with at the college level. Will he be able to hold his ground in the paint effectively?

Random Red Flag: Withey apparently lacks mental toughness and can apparently drift in and out of games at times. This should be expected from someone who calls San Diego home. They may know how to stay classy, but only a select few can keep their heads on a swivel when they find themselves in a vicious cockfight.

The Clyde Factor: I think Clyde would be able to pronounce Withey's last name correctly (maybe a "Worthy" might slip in there if we're lucky). Hopefully he would lambast him about spelling his name "Jeffree." But Clyde could have plenty of fun with "Withey" puns/wordplay. "Withey's opponents are Withering at the rim!" "Withey With Ease on that good stuff!" Things like that. I'm not feeling terribly creative, so suggestions are appreciated.

Knick Knacks:

  • You know who else went to Kansas? Wilt Chamberlain. Just saying.
  • Speaking of Kansas alums, Withey says in his KU profile that Paul Pierce is his favorite former Kansas player to watch. If he is to be a Knicks, he needs to learn to hate that man.
  • Also from that profile, Withey's nickname is apparently "With." That's super lame.
  • More on Withey's volleyball days out in San Diego.
  • Last season, Withey was a consensus 2nd team All-American and was the NABC Defensive Player of the Year.
  • NBADraft.net compares Withey to Travis Knight. Um, HELL YES.

Let's Get Reel:

Withey Block Party Video (via BEETOVNLVR)

Jeff Withey 2012-13 Highlights (via witheyunchained)

Jeff Withey for the three ball!!! (via zimstang) He did shoot 100% from three last season. It was just that one...

Jeff Withey 2013 NBA Draft Scouting Report Video (via DraftExpress)

What We Learned:

  • There's something about Withey's scowl that I kind of like. Playing with Tyson Chandler and Carmelo Anthony would definitely help him improve his scowling.
  • You can see Withey's technique on his shot blocking. Doesn't have to leave his feet too much. Very sound.
  • You can also tell how active he is around the rim in a free-flowing offense.

Conclusions:

I'm a big Withey fan. A suitable backup for Tyson Chandler is something the Knicks lacked all season. Marcus Camby never panned out, Kurt Thomas eventually got hurt, and while Kenyon Martin was very solid in the second part of the year, the Knicks lacked size. Withey would be a suitable back-up big that could step in right away and help on defense. That's the part of his game that is most attractive to me.

He still has some work left to do on offense, but at 24, Withey is an extremely solid choice. I don't know that he'll be there when it's said and done, but I think Withey would be one of my top options.

What do you all think?

Ross Bernhardt is the managing editor of CHARGED.fm the Magazine. You can check out his Internet writings there and follow him on Twitter:@ross_bernhardt

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