With Louisville having captured the top prize in men’s college basketball’s this season – its third NCAA national championship – we’re now heavy into award season, and Kansas’ seven-foot shot-blocker extraordinaire, Jeff Withey, is among the national honorees. The Jayhawk senior has been honored by the National Association of Basketball Coaches as the Co-Defensive Player of the Year in college basketball.
Withey shares the top defensive award with Victor Oladipo of Indiana. Withey, who transferred to Kansas in 2010 after his freshman season at the University of Arizona, averaged 13.7 points and 8.5 rebounds a game this past season. Where he really stands out, though, is his ability to defend players at the rim. In 2012-13, the San Diego native set a single season Big 12 and Kansas record with 140 blocked shots. He is also the Kansas and Big 12 career blocked-shots leader with 332 in his three seasons at KU. Withey led the Big 12, averaging almost four blocks a game this season, which ranked second in the country.
“It’s not a stretch to say that Withey (projected as a first-round pick in the upcoming NBA Draft) was the biggest defensive difference maker in college basketball this season,” said Jonathan Givony, who writes for DraftExpress.com. “Withey possesses cat-like instincts on (the defensive) end of the floor, showing unbelievable instincts as both a man-to-man and help-side defender. He does an amazing jog of going straight up in the air and absorbing contact without committing a foul.”
Withey is a two-time Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and was named the Most Outstanding Player in this year’s Big 12 Championship, won by the Jayhawks.
A week ago, the KU big man was named a Second Team Consensus All-American by the Associated Press, along with freshman Jayhawk teammate Ben McLemore.
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