Utah Jazz: Kansas center Jeff Withey shows off shooting skills in pre-draft workout
David J. Phillip, AP
SALT LAKE CITY — There was this 7-foot center from Kansas, a big white guy who can definitely block shots and rebound but has somewhat suspect offensive skills, who was working out for the Utah Jazz on Wednesday.
No, thankfully, it was not Greg Ostertag.
On this occasion, it was Jeff Withey, who averaged 13.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.9 blocked shots per game during his senior season for the Jayhawks in 2012-13.
Withey, a consensus second-team All-American, was one of six players who worked out for the Jazz at Zions Bank Basketball Center on Wednesday morning in hopes of hearing their names called during next week's NBA draft.
The others included a pair of 6-9 forwards, Jackie Carmichael and Christian Watford, along with 6-2 guard Ray McCallum Jr., 6-4 guard Brandon Paul and 6-1 guard John Allen.
But Withey was by far the biggest — name-wise and size-wise — of the latest basketball-playing bunch who tried to impress the Jazz brain trust as draft day draws near.
He won't ever be mistaken for Ostertag, the much-maligned 7-foot-2 center from Kansas who the Jazz drafted in 1995. But hey, if Withey could play a decade or more in the big boys league like Ostertag did — 'Tag spent 10 of his 11 NBA seasons in a Jazz uniform — he'd probably be glad to take it.
"I thought it went really well," the slender 7-foot, 235-pound Withey said of Wednesday's workout. "I shot the ball very well. We went up and down (the floor) a little bit; the air's pretty thin up here and I'm not used to that. But overall I felt pretty good about the workout. ... They wanted to see how well I shot the ball, and I didn't get to play too much defense."
Withey admitted that his schedule leading up to next Thursday's NBA draft has been hectic to say the least.
"It's been a crazy little ride, you know. I've been all over the place," he said. "This is my 12th workout in about 2 1/2 weeks or maybe three weeks, so I've been all over the place flying.
"It's been a unique experience. A lot of the people that I've talked to just say, 'Have fun with it,' and that's the best advice I've gotten. It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I'm trying to look at it like that, but at the same time it is very stressful because it's a job interview everywhere you go and you want to be the best that you can be. And the draft is right around the corner, so it's a pretty crazy time.
"The anticipation of not knowing where you're going to be is pretty tough to deal with," Withey said. "People all over the place are just, you know, (asking) 'Where are you gonna go? Where are you gonna go?' I don't have a choice, so wherever I go I'll be happy and it's going to be an exciting experience."
Asked what he might bring to the Jazz should they call his name next Thursday evening, Withey said it was his shot-blocking ability that would likely afford him that opportunity.
"I think, right away, defense. That's something I pride myself on," he said. "I want to come in and block a lot of shots, lock down the best big man, and I think that's what my role can be my first year.
"And I just want to keep on growing as a player. I have offensive talents, too, that eventually I'll be able to master and be able to show that as well."
Walt Perrin, the Jazz's vice president of player personnel who has overseen the team's workouts of almost 80 potential draft prospects over the past several weeks, was impressed with Withey's performance in Wednesday's session — particularly the big fella's un-Ostertag-like ability to shoot the ball.
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