Easily lost in the chaos of the MLB Winter Meetings and the aftermath of the Jovan Belcher tragedy was the news that Jeff Withey was named the Big 12’s player of the week Monday. His selection means the Jayhawks have gone back-to-back after fellow senior Travis Releford was selected the previous week.
At the time I wrote about Travis Releford being so honored a week ago, Withey had already notched the second triple-double in the schools illustrious basketball history. While it was hardly going out on a limb, I predicted that KU’s big man and shot-blocking force would be the next player to win the conference award.
Obviously I’m not Nostradamus, but it’s nice to be right once in a while.
After Withey turned in his 16 point, 12 rebound, 12 block masterpiece against San Jose State on Monday, November 26th all he really had to do was have a solid performance against Oregon State. Solid he was against he Beavers on Friday. The seven footer scored 17 points on 7-9 shooting. He also chipped in five rebounds, three blocks and a steal.
Last year Jeff Withey was a revelation for the Jayhawks. After waiting his turn in his first several seasons at KU, he saw his minutes quadruple and he made the most of it averaging 9.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 3.6 blocks. It’s still early in the 2012-2013 season but he’s elevated his game to another level with averages of 14.6 points, 8.1 rebounds and 5.7 blocks per game.
It’s going to be tough for Kansas to make it three in a row given that they only have one game this week. Then again that game on Saturday is at home against the Colorado Buffaloes (6-1). Elijah Johnson has been fairly quiet so far this season and is due to have a statement performance. If not Elijah, standout freshman Ben McLemore – who leads the team in scoring and is third in rebounding – figures to be the best chance for the three-peat.