KU’s Jeff Withey named co-defensive player of the year by NABC

Jeff Withey (5) blocks George Fant in the Jayhawks second-round game against Western Kentucky Friday, March 22, 2013 at the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

Kansas University senior center Jeff Withey on Sunday was named National Association of Basketball Coaches Co-Defensive Player of the Year at the 2013 AT&T/NABC Guardians of the Game Awards Show in Atlanta.

Withey, a 7-footer from San Diego, shared the honor with Indiana junior guard Victor Oladipo.

Withey averaged 13.7 points and a team-leading 8.5 rebounds a game for the Jayhawks (31-6). He broke his own KU and Big 12 single-season blocked shots record by swatting 146 shots.

In 2011-12, he blocked 140 shots to set the school and league mark.

The 2012 and 2013 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year, Withey is also the KU and Big 12 career blocked-shots leader. He finished his career with 312 all-time blocks. A three-time Big 12 Player of the Week, Withey led the Big 12 with 3.95 blocked shots per game, which ranked second nationally, and set the KU and conference per-game-average season record.

Last week Withey was named Consensus All-America Second Team along with KU red-shirt freshman guard Ben McLemore.

Certain first-rounder: Draftexpress.com believes Withey will be taken No. 21 in the first round of the NBA Draft.

“It’s not a stretch to say that Withey was the biggest defensive difference maker in college basketball this season. He blocked 4.9 shots per-40 minutes, down from 5.7 last year, but is far more than just a shot-blocker,” Draft Express’ Jonathan Givony writes.

“Withey possess cat-like instincts on this end of the floor, showing unbelievable instincts as both a man to man and help-side defender. He does an amazing job of going straight up into the air and absorbing contact while avoiding committing a foul, aided greatly by his long reach, quick jump and tremendous timing. He almost always is able to keep his blocks in-bounds, which is infinitely more valuable than having a shot-blocker who simply sends opponent’s shots into the second row. This is perhaps where his volleyball background shows up the most.

“Withey is also already 23 years old, so there may be an element of ‘what you see is what you get’ in terms of his upside,” Givony adds. “Athletic 7-footers with great defensive instincts and excellent finishing ability don’t grow on trees, though, so there will surely be a market for his services.”

Draft Express has KU freshman Ben McLemore being taken No. 2 overall behind Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel. McLemore has yet to make it official that he’s entering the draft.

KU ties: Here’s a look at how some college coaches with KU ties fared with their current schools this season.

Larry Brown, former KU head coach, now coach at SMU: Brown’s first SMU team went 15-17 overall and 5-11 in Conference USA.

Danny Manning, former KU player, now coach at Tulsa: Manning’s first Golden Hurricane team went 17-16 overall and 8-8 in Conference USA. Tulsa lost its first-round CBI Tourney game to Wright State, 72-52.

Jerod Haase, former KU guard, now coach at UAB: Haase’s first Blazers team went 16-17 overall and 7-9 in Conference USA.

Mark Turgeon, former KU guard and assistant coach now coach at Maryland: Turgeon’s second Terrapin team finished 25-13. The Terps lost to Iowa, 71-60, in the NIT semifinals in New York. Maryland went 8-10 in the ACC.

Rex Walters, former KU guard now coach at San Francisco: Walters’ fifth San Francisco team went 15-16 overall and 7-9 in the West Coast Conference.

Tad Boyle, former KU guard now coach at Colorado: Boyle’s third Colorado team went 21-12 overall and 10-8 in the Pac-12. The Buffs fell to Illinois in the second-round of the NCAAs.

Barry Hinson, former KU director of basketball operations now coach at Southern Illinois: Hinson’s first SIU team went 14-17 overall, 6-12 in Missouri Valley Conference games.

Ben Miller, former KU assistant coach now coach at NCAA Div. II UNC Pembroke: Miller’s fifth Pembroke team went 22-10 overall and 14-5 in the Peach Belt Conference.

Alonzo Jamison, former KU player now coach at Bethel College: Jamison’s second Bethel team went 3-25 overall and 2-16 in the KCAC.