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Kansas Jeff Withey is Underrated, an Elite Defender

April 15, 2012

Watching Jared Sullinger struggle against Kansas’ Jeff Withey during the Final Four made me worry about how Sullinger will do in the NBA against taller players.   While studying tape of Royce White, I noticed that he was having difficulty with Jeff Withey as well.  It made me think, maybe it’s not so much Sullinger but Withey being really good.  I also thought above how Anthony Davis struggled offensively in the championship game against Withey, going 1 for 10.  I realized that Withey might just be an amazing defensive player.

I decided to look at all his match-ups against NBA first round talent caliber players where he had to guard them.  I concluded four things about Withey.

  1. He can guard anyone without a double team.  Kansas strategically does not double-team the player Withey is guarding.
  2. He guards the best post player on the opposing team, not Thomas Robinson.  It was only against Baylor’s Perry Jones that Bill Self decided to use Robinson instead.
  3. He effectively defends different types of player.  He can defend the face up game of Royce White, defend Jared Sullinger’s post up game and defend Anthony Davis’ length.
  4. Withey is an exception to my post on College Shot Blockers are Overrated because he is an excellent one-on-one defender.  See his 2013 NBA Draft Scouting Report and Prediction.

Additionally, I decided to quantify Withey’s defensive prowess against the best players he directly defended.


  • Anthony Davis appeared to have a good game against him on the November 15th match-up until I realized that his offensive rating for that game wasn’t even a 100.
  • Withey did not allow an offensive rating of greater than 100 in any of these 5 games.
  • Royce White appeared to do the best against him.  However, it was more through volume.  He wasn’t efficient as his offensive ratings were below his season averages.
  • All four players below on the list underperformed with an offensive rating under their season averages against Withey
  • Withey caused all four players to turn the ball over more than their season averages.
  • Despite all the negativity Sullinger received against Withey, Anthony Davis actually had a worse offensive game than him.

Field Goal Percentage Allowed

Match-up Date FG Att FG %age Season Avg Diff
Anthony Davis 15-Nov-11 8 75.0% 62.3% 12.7%
Royce White 14-Jan-12 14 50.0% 53.4% -3.4%
Royce White 28-Jan-12 11 54.5% 53.4% 1.1%
Jared Sullinger 1-Mar-12 19 26.3% 51.9% -25.6%
Tyler Zeller 25-Mar-12 11 54.5% 55.3% -0.8%
Anthony Davis 2-Apr-12 10 10.0% 62.3% -52.3%

Poins Allowed

Match-up Date Points Season Avg Diff
Anthony Davis 15-Nov-11 14 14.2 0.20
Royce White- 14-Jan-12 18 13.4 4.60
Royce White 28-Jan-12 18 13.4 4.60
Jared Sullinger 1-Mar-12 13 17.5 4.50
Tyler Zeller 25-Mar-12 12 16.3 4.30
Anthony Davis 2-Apr-12 6 14.2 8.20

Free Throws Allowed

Match-up Date FT Attempts Season Avg Diff
Anthony Davis 15-Nov-11 6 5.1 -0.9
Royce White 14-Jan-12 8 6.0 -2.0
Royce White 28-Jan-12 11 6.0 -5.0
Jared Sullinger 1-Mar-12 4 6.2 2.2
Tyler Zeller 25-Mar-12 0 5.9 5.9
Anthony Davis 2-Apr-12 6 5.1 -0.9

Turnovers Forced

Match-up Date Turnovers Season Avg Diff
Anthony Davis 15-Nov-11 3 1.0 -2.0
Royce White 14-Jan-12 5 3.8 -1.2
Royce White 28-Jan-12 6 3.8 -2.2
Jared Sullinger 1-Mar-12 2 1.9 -0.1
Tyler Zeller 25-Mar-12 2 1.9 -0.1
Anthony Davis 2-Apr-12 3 1.0 -2.0

Offensive Rating Allowed

Match-up Date Offensive Rating Season Avg Diff
Anthony Davis 15-Nov-11 99.8 133.6 -33.8
Royce White 14-Jan-12 91.4 100.1 -8.7
Royce White 28-Jan-12 99.6 100.1 -0.5
Jared Sullinger 1-Mar-12 80.3 117.8 -37.5
Tyler Zeller 25-Mar-12 96.2 121.0 -24.8
Anthony Davis 2-Apr-12 72.7 133.6 -60.9

From → Kansas Jayhawks

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