Arizona Wildcats basketball: Budinger says "too bad" about Withey's decision to transfer

Mother confirms the move; UA officials must still give him a release
2008-10-30T00:00:00Z Arizona Wildcats basketball: Budinger says "too bad" about Withey's decision to transferBy Bruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
October 30, 2008 12:00 am  • 

Freshman center Jeff Withey has decided to transfer from the Arizona Wildcats basketball program.

Withey's mother, Debbie, said the move is not finalized but otherwise declined to comment. UA interim head coach Russ Pennell said today only that he has turned the matter over to athletic director Jim Livengood. UA officials must give Withey a release from his scholarship.

The loss is significant for the Wildcats. Withey, a Top 50 high school prospect and the top-rated of UA’s remaining freshmen, would have at least been the first player rotated into the two post spots.

Junior forward Chase Budinger, who has worked out with Withey and personal trainer Trent Suzuki near San Diego, said Withey was probably considering his future career more than what might happen this year.

"Jeff would have got a lot of minutes playing here,” Budinger said after today’s Pac-10 media day in Los Angeles. “He probably would have been a starter. It’s just too bad he made that decision to leave.”

On Wednesday, after Withey did not show up for a practice, Pennell said he and Withey are “working through some things.” He declined additional comment but said he addressed transfers to the Wildcat players at practice.

“What I told the guys in there: Whoever’s here is who we’re going to coach, and we march on,” Pennell said. “It’s all you can do. Whoever puts on that red, white and blue, that’s who’s with me.”

Withey was not available for comment but indicated last week, in the wake of former coach Lute Olson’s abrupt retirement, that he was thinking about a sudden move. He said only that “I’m at Arizona now.”

Withey’s impending departure means three of the Wildcats’ original four 2008 recruits will never play for the Wildcats. Forward Emmanuel Negedu was released from his letter-of-intent last June and enrolled at Tennessee, while guard Brandon Jennings opted for Italy last July.

12:30 p.m.

Freshman center Jeff Withey has decided to transfer from the Arizona Wildcats basketball program, his mother confirmed today.

Debbie Withey said the move was not finalized but otherwise declined to comment. UA interim head coach Russ Pennell said this morning, before the Pac-10 media day in Los Angeles, that he has turned the matter over to athletic director Jim Livengood. UA officials must decide whether to give Withey a release from his scholarship.

On Wednesday, after Withey did not show up for a practice, Pennell said that he and Withey are “working through some things.” He declined additional comment but said he addressed transfers to the Wildcat players at practice.

“What I told the guys in there: Whoever’s here is who we’re going to coach, and we march on,” Pennell said. “It’s all you can do. Whoever puts on that red, white and blue, that’s who’s with me.”

Withey was not available for comment but indicated last week, in the wake of former coach Lute Olson’s abrupt retirement, that he was thinking about a sudden move. He said only that “I’m at Arizona now.”

Withey’s impending departure means three of the Wildcats’ original four 2008 recruits will never play for the Wildcats. Forward Emmanuel Negedu was released from his letter-of-intent last June and enrolled at Tennessee, while guard Brandon Jennings opted for Italy last July.

In addition, Withey will leave a significant hole in the Wildcats’ frontcourt. Withey was expected to be at least the first player off the bench to play one of the two post spots. Withey, of San Diego, was a Top 50 prospect in the high school class of 2008 and the Wildcats’ top-rated remaining freshman.

If Withey transfers by the end of the fall semester, he could be eligible at another school at the end of the 2009 fall semester. It is also possible that Withey could appeal to become immediately eligible, based on Olson's departure.

8:45 a.m.

Freshman center Jeff Withey has decided to transfer from the Arizona Wildcats basketball program, his mother confirmed this morning.

Debbie Withey said the move is not finalized but otherwise declined to comment, saying only that her son had made the decision. UA officials must give Withey a release from his scholarship.

Withey, of San Diego, was a Top 50 prospect in the high school class of 2008 and the Wildcats' top-rated remaining freshman.

UA interim head coach Russ Pennell said Wednesday, after Withey did not show up for a practice, that he and Withey are "working through some things.” He declined additional comment but said he addressed transfers to the Wildcat players at practice.

"What I told the guys in there: Whoever's here is who we're going to coach, and we march on," Pennell said. "It's all you can do. Whoever puts on that red, white and blue, that's who's with me."

Withey was not available for comment but indicated last week, in the wake of former coach Lute Olson's abrupt retirement, that he was thinking about a sudden move. He said only that "I'm at Arizona now."

Withey's impending departure means three of the Wildcats' original four 2008 recruits will never play for the Wildcats. Forward Emmanuel Negedu was released from his letter-of-intent last June and enrolled at Tennessee, while guard Brandon Jennings opted for Italy last July.

In addition, Withey will leave a significant hole in the Wildcats' frontcourt. Withey was expected to be at least the first player off the bench to play one of the two post spots.

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