Kansas center Jeff Withey (5) reacts during the second half of an NCAA Final Four semifinal college basketball tournament game against the Ohio State Saturday, March 31, 2012, in New Orleans. Kansas won 64-62. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
IRVING, Texas – Kansas seniors Jeff Withey and Elijah Johnson have been named to the men's basketball 2012-13 Preseason All-Big 12 Team in a vote by the conference coaches, the league announced Thursday. Coaches were not allowed to vote for their own team in the poll.
Withey was a unanimous all-league team selection, while Johnson earned honorable mention recognition by the conference coaches.
“This is a great honor,” Withey said. “We have a lot of guys on this team that could have easily been in that category. The Big 12 is one of the best conferences in the nation. It is only preseason and hopefully I will be in the same position at the end of the year.”
A 7-0 center from San Diego, Withey was the 2012 Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year who set the Kansas and Big 12 single-season blocked shots record with 140 last season. An All-Big 12 Third Team selection as a junior, included in his 140 blocked shots were an NCAA Tournament record 31 in KU’s run to the NCAA National Championship title game and a conference games only record of 65. Withey averaged 9.0 points and 6.3 rebounds for Kansas last season and shot a team-best 79.5 percent from the free throw line.
Johnson is Kansas’ leading returning scorer from 2011-12 when he averaged 10.2 points per game. The 6-4 guard out of Las Vegas led KU with 69 three-point field goals made and 55 steals his junior season.
Withey, Johnson and senior guard Travis Releford are Kansas’ three returning starters from last season’s 32-7 team which won its school-record eighth-straight Big 12 regular-season title (16-2 league record) and advanced to the school’s 14th Final Four and ninth NCAA title game. Ranked consistently in most 2012-13 preseason top 10 polls nationally, including many in the top five, the Jayhawks return eight letterwinners and have nine freshmen on this season’s roster. Two of the newcomers, guard Ben McLemore and forward Jamari Traylor, were redshirts last season.
Joining Withey on the Preseason All-Big 12 Team were Pierre Jackson (Baylor), Rodney McGruder (Kansas State), Le’Bryan Nash (Oklahoma State) and Myck Kabongo (Texas). Withey, McGruder and Nash were all unanimous selections.
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