Player Spotlight: Jae’Lyn Withers
Hometown: Charlotte, NC
The season has yet to start, but freshman Jae’Lyn Withers has wasted no time in showing Louisville fans his athleticism and what he can do. At Louisville Live on September 27, Withers was the winner of the slam dunk contest, beating out Darius Perry, Josh Nickelberry, and Aidan Igiehon. When you win a dunk contest that is judged by Griff and Donovan Mitchell (and Jack Harlow, of course), that is saying something.
Withers comes from a basketball family. His dad, Curtis, played at UNC Charlotte and was a three-time All-Conference USA forward where he scored 1,750 points and grabbed 1,042 rebounds. He is still playing overseas. His mother played basketball while in high school.
The coaches have said that they would like for Withers to learn the power forward spot and possibly transition into the small forward spot as well. Not that there are really set positions in basketball anymore. It’s really a point guard, a center, and wings that can usually shoot and drive. So we will just say that they want him to know both forward positions.
Although this class of freshmen is highly regarded, let’s not act like the team had nothing coming back. Withers will be competing for playing time with guys like Jordan Nwora, Dwayne Sutton, and maybe even Malik Williams, depending on how he is used when he comes back. Nwora played 31.9 minutes per game last year and Sutton 31.4. The next highest from a returning player is 19.2 from Steven Enoch. So there is a good chance that we are a year away from seeing Withers play significant minutes for the Cards, and that isn’t a bad thing.
He is listed at 215 pounds, but that is when he got to campus. I haven’t seen an update, as we don’t really hear about body weight and body fat as much anymore (fine by me), but surely he has packed on a few pounds of muscle since the summer. It’s almost impossible to not make significant changes in your body when you make the switch from high school to college basketball, unless you are Anas Mahmoud. Withers adding some weight to his frame so he can play physically at this level will make a major difference for his game.
As a senior at Cleveland Heights High School last season, Withers averaged 19.8 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks per game. He is a versatile player that can shoot it from the outside and get to the rim. Like I said, adding weight will help when he drives. But he is certainly athletic enough and will only get much better this season when he is practicing against the likes of Nwora and Sutton.
While other freshmen may play more this season, don’t forget about Withers. His time is coming.