Jayhawks reload with Morningstar, Withey

Jayhawks reload with Morningstar, Withey

Published Dec. 21, 2009 10:59 p.m. ET

How's this for a midseason deal: the nation's top-ranked team gets its best perimeter defender and an athletic 7-footer while giving up nothing.

Already so deep and talented coach Bill Self can't find minutes for everyone, No. 1 Kansas will likely be even better after adding guard Brady Morningstar and center Jeff Withey this week.

Somewhere, George Steinbrenner is probably jealous.

``Next to (Roy) Halladay going to the Phillies and (Cliff) Lee going to the Mariners, our acquisitions are about as good as anybody's made,'' Self said Friday. ``We didn't have to give anybody up, so that's good, and certainly we got better by these two becoming eligible.''


College basketball's version of the trade deadline comes at the end of the fall semester. That's when players who have been forced to sit out - usually transfers - become eligible.

It's been a good week for deadline deals.

No. 2 Texas, maybe the only team to match Kansas' depth and talent, adds guard Jai Lucas for Saturday's big-ticket game against North Carolina at Texas Stadium. Lucas, son of former NBA point guard and coach John Lucas, can play both guard positions and might be needed right away with freshman J'Covan Brown nursing a sprained ankle.

Connecticut finally gets to see former Sudanese refugee Ater Majok play this weekend after a yearlong wait. The 6-foot-11 freshman declared for the NBA draft - without an agent - last spring after being the center of recruiting allegations at UConn.

Seton Hall will add two players this week. Keon Lawrence, a transfer from Missouri, returns from being suspended for his involvement in a automobile accident and Jeff Robinson becomes eligible after transferring from Memphis. Center Derrick Caracter also is playing for Texas-El Paso after transferring from Louisville.

Kansas' acquisitions could potentially have the greatest impact.

Morningstar started 34 games last season coming off a redshirt year. He was often assigned to cover the opposing team's best perimeter player, was good spot-up shooter - 42 percent from 3-point range last season - and one of the best players at feeding the post.

Expected to be counted on heavily again this season, Morningstar instead spent the first half of the season watching from the bench, all his minutes coming in practice.

The junior guard was arrested on suspicion of DUI on Oct. 3, less than two weeks after a series of fights between the basketball and football teams embarrassed the normally placid university. Self suspended Morningstar for the fall semester and he's spent the time honing his game in practice, working with Kansas' multitude of young players.

``It was pretty tough, knowing you couldn't play because of something you did that was pretty stupid,'' Morningstar said. ``That was tough, but take your medicine and go on. I did, the punishment's over and now it's time to go out and play.''

He's expected to have an immediate impact.

Self wasn't sure how much Morningstar would play Saturday against Michigan, but there was no doubt he'll get minutes - not to mention a shot at dynamic guard Manny Harris, the Big Ten's leading scorer at 22.2 points per game.

``Brady, when he's in the game, will be on him and try to slow him down,'' Self said. ``I don't know if you can shut out a guy who's averaging 22, but he'll certainly try to slow him down.''

Withey is still a little ways off from being a big contributor.

The freshman from San Diego attended Arizona the first semester of the 2008-09 school year before transferring to Kansas. Withey had to sit out the first nine games this season before becoming eligible, but isn't likely to see significant minutes anytime soon because of a nagging knee injury.

``I just don't feel comfortable putting guys out there that haven't been out there,'' Self said. ``It's probably seven weeks that he hasn't been able to practice. He just started this week and wasn't even able to go every day, so he's still a month away from really impacting this team. That's not a knock on him. I just don't know any coach that would put a guy out there who hasn't practiced yet.''

It's still quite a deal.