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KU's Jeff Withey Becoming A Force
February 17, 2012
Wendell Barnhouse is a nationally-known and respected columnist who has spent over 20 years covering collegiate athletics. He has reported from 25 Final Fours and more than three dozen bowl games and has written about the Big 12 and its schools since the conference's beginning. Barnhouse will be updating the Big 12 Insider on happenings and behind-the-scenes information about the conference.

(Jeff Goodman of talked with Kansas' Jeff Withey, who is starting to become an impact player for the fourth-ranked Jayhawks.)

Jeff Withey is your typical laid-back California kid.

"I spent a lot of time on the beach growing up," Kansas' emerging big man said. "But I was too tall to surf. I tried it, but it didn't work."

Withey is doing plenty of work these days on the court. Finally. This was a 7-footer who was highly recruited out of high school in San Diego and signed with Lute Olson and Arizona. However, he left Tucson without ever playing a game.

"It just wasn't a stable place," said Withey, who was in Tucson the season that Russ Pennell and Mike Dunlap basically shared the head-coaching duties. "Coach Olson and Coach [Josh] Pastner had recruited me, but both had left and I wasn't sure who I'd be playing for the next season and the rest of my college career."

So Withey packed up quickly and transferred to Kansas -- a spot with a head coach who had recruited him out of high school. He sat out the first year, then waited his turn behind guys like Marcus and Markieff Morris -- as well as Thomas Robinson -- before getting his shot this season. He also has dealt with numerous injuries since arriving in Lawrence.

But now he's thriving. He played well in spurts earlier this season, even against Kentucky in Madison Square Garden, but his offensive game is what has progressed under the tutelage of Danny Manning. Withey is averaging 20.3 points, 12 boards and 6.3 blocks in the past three games.

"He's been as important to our success as anyone on our team," Manning said.

Yes, that includes T-Rob or Tyshawn Taylor.

The one area that Bill Self and the Jayhawks staff are still trying to work with Withey, though, is becoming tougher and more intense.

"I grew up in a Christian home. I'm a Christian," Withey said. "I've always been told to be nice to other people. I'm really laid-back. Everyone tries to get me pissed off before the games -- even my dad."

"It's starting to work," he added.

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