KnicksNow: Withey is a sparkling example of why amateur athletics exist.
As a sophomore at the University of Kansas, Withey averaged just 2.5 points per game and the 7-footer seemed destined for a limited role at one of the premier college basketball programs in the nation. However, the California native displayed a tremendous work ethic over his final two seasons at Kansas while transforming into a projected first round draft pick.
Withey owns an NBA-ready body, standing at 7-feet with an impressive 7-3 wingspan. The 23-year old is a gifted athlete for his size and can run the floor and finish around the rim with ease. During his final season in Lawrence, Withey showcased an ability to utilize his long frame to block shots and correctly use space and “verticality” to swat oncoming attempts from the opposition.
Withey’s defensive dominance is the most attractive part of his game when examining him as an NBA prospect. In 2012-13, he averaged 3.9 blocked shots per game, earned Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year honors and the National Association of Basketball Coaches named him co-National Defensive Player of the Year. Withey also appeared on the 2nd Team All-American squad by The Sporting News. In 2012, the big man broke Joakim Noah’s NCAA Tournament record for blocks with 31 in the Jayhawks’ run to the title game.
From an offensive standpoint, Withey showed significant improvement on the blocks and in the open floor. According to DraftExpress.com, he ranked as the No. 1 finisher in college basketball. The center flushed 3.4 finishing attempts per game, good for 79.2 percent around the basket on non-post up situations.
At the next level, scouts believe he will need to develop a more refined back to the basket arsenal. His future squad will look to increase his lower body strength and improve his ability to establish a physical presence on the blocks.
Withey is a legit option at No. 24 for the Knicks. With Rasheed Wallace’s retirement and Marcus Camby’s injury issues and age, Tyson Chandler will need a capable back-up at the center position. He even compared his game to Chandler at the NBA Draft Combine in Chicago while expressing the desire to become a Noah type of NBA center. New York would also benefit from another defensive-minded big man to compete with the up-and-coming Eastern Conference contenders that all feature 7-footers anchoring the paint excluding the Miami Heat. The Knicks would instantly receive one of the best shot blockers in the draft and from all accounts a guy with strong character and wiliness to improve.