Withey touring U.S. on NBA tryouts

Jun 19 2013 - 11:02pm

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Former Kansas big man Jeff Withey is no Shabazz Muhammad, which is to say he's relatively unknown.

Withey, who participated in a predraft workout for the Jazz on Wednesday, comes into this month's NBA draft with little fanfare and almost no previous recognition. A 23-year-old senior who played four seasons for the Jayhawks, he never averaged more than 10 points a game until last season and still isn't considered more than a late first-round pick.

For comparison, Muhammad -- who visited the Jazz on Monday -- was considered a potential No. 1 overall pick as a high schooler and was an offensive threat during his one season at UCLA. He has been rated as a top 15 pick.

Withey said he has worked out for 12 teams in the past 2 1/2 weeks.

"I've been all over the place, flying," he said. "It's been a unique experience and a lot of people I've talked to just say 'Have fun with it,' and that's the best advice I've gotten."

The Jazz have the Nos. 14 and 21 picks in the first round of the draft, set for June 27 in Brooklyn. Their biggest need is point guard, however, they have taken a closer look at several centers and power forwards during the predraft season.

Withey was one of six players who worked out at the Zions Bank Basketball Center. The Jazz have worked out more than 70 potential draftees, with more to follow.

Before averaging 13.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per game last season, Withey wasn't well known. He was a non-factor for the Jayhawks during his first two seasons, but began drawing scouts' attention with his solid defensive skills.

As a junior he averaged 3.6 blocked shots a game and averaged nearly four a game as a senior.

His defensive skills may have put him on the NBA's radar, but he has flashed offensive ability in predraft workouts.

At 23, Withey is among the oldest players in the draft, which some teams may consider a liability. But his stock has risen among league executives, partly due to an offensive skill set that wasn't fully displayed in the Jayhawks' schemes.

"He's more than a back-to-the-basket player, he can really shoot the ball from about 15 feet," Jazz player personnel director Walt Perrin said. "We know he can protect the basket, we know he rebounds, he played extremely hard. Because you don't see him stepping away from the basket at Kansas, he showed us that he can knock down the 15-foot jump shot."

Withey said he was pleased with how he shot the ball during his workout.

"We did a lot of 3-on-3 situation type of drills just to see how you do under certain circumstances - your creativity when you're playing offense," he said. "They wanted to see how well I shot the ball. I didn't get to play too much defense, it's more shooting and doing offensive stuff."

Perrin said the Jazz had seen film of Withey playing at Kansas and knew what his defensive skills were like. They brought him in for an individual workout to assess his offensive abilities.

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