The Sideline Report with Jeff Withey
It seems like a lot of Kansas fans want to hear more about KU transfer Jeff Withey.
Though the 6-foot-10 center from San Diego won’t be eligible to play until next winter, he has been practicing with the Jayhawks since January.
I was able to talk with Jeff for a few minutes after last Friday’s practice. Hopefully, you’ll learn a little more about him in today’s Sideline Report.
The Sideline Report with Jeff Withey
Jesse Newell: What’s your first impression of the weather in Kansas?
Jeff Withey: Definitely cold. It’s hard to get adjusted to, but I’m starting to get adjusted to it. I’m starting to like it, actually.
JN: What do you like about it?
JW: I like the snow. I think that’s kind of fun, but we haven’t seen it in a little while. It’s just different. I like different. It’s a little wacky how it changes up and down. Today was hot. Yesterday was freezing.
Ed. Note — I know this isn’t Jeff, but it is a cool Lawrence snow photo shot by the LJW’s Mike Yoder. Anyways, carry on.
JN: When was the last time you saw snow before you got here?
JW: I never saw it before I got here.
JN: What was your first reaction when you saw it?
JW: I thought it was fun. I got a snowball and threw it at someone. It’s just fun. I pictured it Christmas-y. It’s a lot different than southern California.
JN: How much do you miss the beach?
JW: I miss it a lot. It’s something I’m definitely going to go see right when I get back home. But, you know, I’m here, and I’m just going to make the best out of here.
JN: What do you miss the most from the beach?
JW: I just miss swimming and just hanging out. I miss the sun and all that.
JN: I heard you played volleyball when you were younger. Tell me about that.
JW: (Laughs) Yeah, I played volleyball, but it was indoor volleyball, not outdoor. That was when I was younger. When I was in middle school, I actually went to the junior Olympics.
JN: Do a lot of guys do that in southern California? Did you take a ribbing for that?
JW: (Laughs) No, actually a lot of people do play there. So it’s not that unusual.
JN: What’s your impression of Cole Aldrich after going against him in practice?
E.N.: Super short Cole video, but it made me laugh.
JW: He’s pretty strong. He’s a tough guy to guard. He’s really good. I’m learning a lot from him. He can only get me better, and hopefully, I’m getting him better. He’s a tough guy to guard, though.
JN: What’s one thing specifically that you’ve learned from him?
JW: Just going hard every time. Every day in practice, he goes hard and gives it his all. That’s something I’m trying to strive for, and hopefully, I can give everything during practice.
JN: Does it take a while to get used to tempo at this practice compared to some other ones?
JW: Yeah, definitely. Coach expects a lot of you. When I came in, I didn’t really (realize) how he liked everybody to play. It was kind of like a shell-shock. I started getting into the tempo and back into shape and all that.
JN: It seems like all the big guys have played better since you’ve been on campus. Are you taking credit for that?
JW: Not yet. If we win the national championship, I’ll take credit. (Laughs)
JN: What was your first impression of Coach Self the first time you met him?
JW: I really like him. He’s a real personable guy. He gets along with everybody. He likes joking around. Just a fun guy to be around and a good coach.
JN: Has your perception changed at all since you’ve gotten here?
JW: It’s definitely part of his little recruiting. (Smiles) He’s hard on the guys. He’s hard on me, but we need that. He’s a good coach, and I respect him. He wants to win, so he’s going to do whatever he can to win.
JN: In what areas has he been hardest on you?
JW: Just with the tempo and stuff, I’m trying to adjust to it. So he kicks my butt in that. I have to run a lot and just get back in shape. He’s kicking my butt with that.
JN: How well do you shoot threes?
JW: How well? I’d say pretty well. I like shooting threes. I like shooting jump shots and all that. And I think they’re going to let me shoot some threes next year. I’m working on my jump shot still.
JN: Do you think guys are surprised when they see a 7-footer pulling up from behind the arc?
JW: Yeah, I would say so. I don’t like to be one of those guys that just shoots threes or anything. I like to post up and get in there and get rough with everybody. Kind of like Marcus (Morris). He comes down and shoots a three every now and then.
JN: I read your brother is a firefighter. Tell me about that.
JW: I definitely look up to him. I’ve always looked up to him since I was younger. He’s a good example for me. He puts his life out on the line every day and just helps people. It inspires me to go out everyday and try my best and give up my body for the love of the game.
JN: Any example of when you were younger when you saw him as a good example?
JW: When I was little, I always wanted to be just like him. I would go to his basketball practice and just shoot on the side. I would just always follow him around.
JN: Any scary moments with his firefighting? Obviously that’s a profession that can be dangerous.
JW: In California, there’s a lot of wildfires. Five months ago or so, he went out to Santa Barbara to fight a fire, and we can’t really talk to him. It’s pretty scary, but he’s trained to do it, and we all know he’s a tough guy.
E.N.: A TV news report showing the damage caused by the recent southern California wildfires.
JN: What’s the best part about France? (Withey played there as part of Team USA in the 2008 Douai World Championships.)
JW: (Laughs) I don’t know. France was a different experience. It was different. I didn’t really like it too much. (Laughs)
JN: Why’s that?
JW: They didn’t have really good food or anything like that. We had to go out and buy a lot of weird food. Their pizza was different. They had a lot of raw meat and stuff. It was definitely a different experience.
JN: What was the worst food you had in France, then?
JW: I don’t even know what it was. It was some, like, nasty meat. And they have a lot of cheese everywhere, and everyone smelled pretty bad. It was a good experience. Everything over there is different. It’s what you would picture France to be like: old and beautiful.
JN: You’ve been to Germany, too?
JW: Yeah, me and Trav (Releford) actually went for a U.S. team over in Germany. That was fun.
JN: Is it better?
JW: Yeah, it’s definitely better.
JN: I heard you beat Stanford’s Lopez twins in high school. Tell me about that game.
JW: That was probably my biggest memory in high school. It was my sophomore year. We played the Lopez twins to get to State. It was a double-overtime game. We ended up winning by one. I’ve played with them before, actually, on my club team, so I knew them pretty well. It was a big step, because beating them, I get to talk trash and all that. (Smiles) It was fun. Just everything about that game was real memorable.
JN: Was it interesting watching them in the NCAA Tournament and thinking, ‘Hey, I’ve already beat these guys’?
JW: Yeah, they definitely got better, obviously. They’re in the League now. But just watching them on TV it’s just like, ‘I played against them. I beat them,’ (laughs) so I can talk trash and stuff.