Jeff Withey was expecting his name to be called during the 2013 NBA draft, but not by the Portland Trail Blazers.
The former Kansas Jayhawks center was surprised by the selection because he never worked out for the Trail Blazers before the draft. But after the 16 teams he did try out for passed him up, Portland decided to take a chance on someone it had never even contacted before with the 39th pick.
“Everybody I did have contact with passed over me,” Withey said to cjonline.com. “I heard a lot of people before the draft say they were working out with teams, and the team you don’t work out with most likely picks you. It’s just weird like that.”
Waiting until the early second round was a “stressful” experience for Withey, who said he was relieved when he finally heard his name called.
Portland’s decision to draft Withey was also a surprise because it already has three centers in LaMarcus Aldridge, J.J. Hickson and Meyers Leonard. But general manager Neil Olshey seemed impressed by Withey’s experience and shot-blocking abilities, making him too good to pass up.
“He’s a man, a fifth-year senior,” Olshey told The Oregonian. “Physically, he can play in our league right away. He’s an elite shot-blocker, he can protect the rim, [and] he comes from a high-pedigree program with Kansas.”
Withey averaged 13.7 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per game during his senior season at Kansas. He holds the Big 12 record for career blocks. Now he will move back to the West Coast in search of a chance to prove himself in the NBA.
“I’m really excited to be on the West Coast,” Withey said. “Obviously, I’ll be able to see a lot of my family throughout the season. Being on the West Coast, by the ocean, by water, that’s something I’ve missed. I’m just really excited right now. I don’t know what to say. It’s an awesome feeling.”