Those who wonder how Kansas senior center Jeff Withey springs so quickly and soars so high for a blocked shot or rebound apparently are not aware of the 7-footer's beachcomber background.
Withey grew up in San Diego. And there was a time in his life when he had all but decided to ditch basketball and focus his concentration on volleyball, both the beach and indoor varieties.
An older sister, Michelle, had played Division I college volleyball at Oral Roberts. That was Jeff's favorite sport.
Then he grew seven inches during his high school years.
"But I'm glad I played a lot of volleyball," Withey said told reporters during Kansas' 2012 run to the Final Four. "In volleyball, you jump so much and you have to be quick off the ground," he said.
"I think that helps me a ton with rebounding, blocking shots, going up for quick shots."
Withey began his college basketball career at Arizona, and then transferred to Kansas after a brief stay in Tucson. After sitting out a year under NCAA transfer rules, Withey averaged just 6.2 minutes of playing time as a sophomore for the Jayhawks But last season, he became the Big 12 conference defensive player of the year and blocked 10 shots during a Sweet 16 victory over North Carolina State in the NCAA Tournament.
This season, Withey averages 13.6 points, 8.4 rebounds and ranks fourth in blocked shots (3.97).
"I didn't think that could happen," Kansas coach Bill Self said of Withey's remarkable progress. The NBA, no doubt, has taken notice.