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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Highly-rated center commits to Arizona

    Jeff Withey
    Jeff Withey

    The Arizona basketball program has its big man for the class of 2008.

    Jeff Withey, a 7-foot, 225-pound center, committed to play for the Wildcats Friday after taking an unofficial visit to the UA campus.

    The four-star prospect from San Diego – ranked No. 32 nationally and the sixth-best player at his position by – arrived in Tucson with his parents on Wednesday.

    During his visit, he met with academic counselors, school administrators and the Arizona strength training staff, and also played pickup games with the Wildcats on Thursday.

    Much of the 2007-2008 Arizona basketball team was on hand in McKale Center, excluding Mohamed Tangara and Jamelle Horne. Withey took his shirt off and was part of the “”skins”” team for a few pickup games, along with Nic Wise, Jordan Hill, Zane Johnson and Chase Budinger, who flew in from California, along with personal trainer Suzuki.

    Withey went up against 6-foot-11 Kirk Walters (who split time with 7-foot-1 Alex Jacobson), Fendi Onobun, Daniel Dillon, Jerryd Bayless and Laval Lucas-Perry.

    “”Playing against (NCAA) D(ivision)-I guys is always going to be hard, but it’s fun,”” Withey said after the pickup games Thursday.

    Withey was quiet on the court, verbally, as he matched up well against Walters. He had several dunks and put-backs.

    Toward the end of the last game, he found himself with the ball outside of the perimeter, looking for an open man.

    “”Go, Jeff! Go, Jeff! Go, Jeff!”” several teammates yelled at him.

    Without hesitation, he shot the ball with a hand in his face and nailed it.

    He ended the game making the final two baskets to secure the win for his team.

    Withey – who received offers from Kansas, Washington and Georgetown, among other schools – has joined a potentially potent 2008 class consisting of point guard Brandon Jennings, shooting guard Brendan Lavender and forward Emmanuel Negedu. All four can sign national letters of intent in November.

    “”I know that Arizona has a good program and great tradition,”” Withey said.

    Withey caught the eyes of Arizona in his early years of high school, and then he verbally committed to Louisville. When he decided against the Louisville program June 5, he became the Wildcats’ big-man target once again.

    “”It literally was a no-brainer,”” Suzuki, also Withey’s trainer, told the Arizona Daily Star. “”He’s going to be able to play big minutes immediately. Arizona affords the perfect opportunity. Plus, he really appreciated that the coaches said how important he was to the future of the program.””

    The Wildcat attempted to contact Suzuki Friday, but could not reach him.

    And 1

    Arizona has only three scholarships to offer the 2008-09 class, despite having four commitments. But Budinger is expected to leave for the NBA after his sophomore year, and other early departures are possible.

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