“I like to model my game after Tyson Chandler defensively. It would be awesome to come here and learn from him, get some stuff from him, and mentor underneath him.”
These were the words of Kansas Center Jeff Withey, following his pre-draft work out with the Knicks. At the conclusion of this past season, it became apparent the Knicks will need to look for a backup Center to help Tyson Chandler shoulder the load. Chandler struggled with the injury bug during the playoffs, and the Knicks had no suitable backup to turn to. Withey seems to have the confidence that he could be that guy, and fill the Knicks second string Center role.
Withey entered his career at Kansas as a bit of a project. He was a big body, with a limited offensive game, and who was too lean to bang around with elite centers. In his freshman season with the Jayhawks, Withey played minimal minutes, and only averaged 1.3 points and 1.4 boards per game. With some time to mature and add muscle to his 7-0 frame, Withey leaves Kansas averaging 14 points and 8.5 boards per contest. His progression over time is definitely a solid testament to his work ethic and desire to improve.
Withey’s offensive game is still a work in progress. He will need to work on a more evolved post game and mix in a short jumper. With that said, on the defensive end is where Withey is going to make the biggest contribution. He was widely considered one of there premier shot blockers in all of college basketball. Withey averaged just under 4 blocks per game in his senior season. His work on the back boards and shot blocking pedigree could make him a viable center at the NBA level.
If selected by the Knicks, Withey would add size and youth to the Knicks front-line. With no guarantee of any contribution from Marcus Camby, Withey could slide into a back up Center role immediately. He would add a strong defensive presence to the lineup when Tyson Chandler is not in the game. His willingness to learn is definitely positive sign. Picking the brain of proven Center Tyson Chandler, Withey could pick up some valuable things to help improve his game. The Knicks may be in competition with the Nets to land Withey’s services. The Nets pick at #22, two picks before the Knicks, and have strong interest in adding Withey.