LAWRENCE — The tapes show little details, so subtle you might not notice them upon first glance. Little shoulder movements. Proper footwork. The height of the hand on the follow-through.
Kansas freshman guard Andrew White III is a basketball junkie, the kind of kid that likes to break down games and study old greats. So when he begins to explain his extra coursework — YouTube clips of Ray Allen, old highlight videos of Reggie Miller — he can point out the little things that might make a difference.
“There’s a lot I take from everybody,” White said.
White, of course, is in a position to watch and learn. In his first season at Kansas, White, a 6-foot-6 sharpshooter from Richmond, Va., has yet to crack the regular rotation. Despite arriving in Lawrence as the No. 51 overall recruit in the country, White has averaged just 2.3 points in 4.5 minutes during the season’s first month.
White has the shooting prowess and size to one day make an impact. But for now, the adjustments to the other parts of the game have been a struggle. The speed of the college game. Defensive responsibilities. The finer points of KU’s offense.
“It’s just taking care of the basketball and understanding a little bit more of what we’re doing,” Kansas coach Bill Self said. “But Andrew’s gonna be a good player.”
When Kansas takes the floor against Oregon State at 7 p.m. Friday at the Sprint Center for its annual game in Kansas City, it seems likely that White’s minutes will still be limited.
Self said this week that White reminds him a little bit of former KU guard Conner Teahan, another three-point shooter who took some time to fit into a role at Kansas. The comparison could be taken as an effort to temper some of the expectations surrounding White, who played well this summer during the Jayhawks’ European exhibition tour. But it also may just suggest that White will need to improve his foot speed, especially on defense, to find time on the court.
“The speed was real different when I first got going,” White said, “and you had to make decisions on the fly. So that’s a big part of the college game, is just being able to react quickly.”
White says he’s embraced the freshman learning curve. The Jayhawks have two wing players — freshman Ben McLemore and senior Travis Releford — entrenched in the starting lineup, another reason for White’s limited minutes. Still, the Jayhawks have shot 29.6 percent from the three-point line this season. And White, with some improvement, could provide another shooter off the bench.
“I’ve always seen myself as a shooter,” White said. “I think I’m a good rebounder; I think my defense has been coming along. But it’s a talented group. But there’s a lot of guys that are older than me. And they have to play also, so it’s just a matter of making time and getting the most minutes I can.”
This is where the extra study comes in. White says his father, Andrew Jr., was a big fan of Indiana Pacers three-point artist Reggie Miller. White was too young to watch Miller, but he’s tried to steal things from a list of great shooters, including Kobe Bryant, Dirk Nowitzki and Ray Allen.
“We all look to Kobe Bryant,” White said, “but what I see in him most is he knows how to create separation, just with his body (and) with his shoulder movement. And that’s something that I always look to do better.…
“And then Ray Allen, he gets his feet set and parallel quick; and then a follow-through… Dirk has a real high follow-through, and Ray Allen gets his off quick. So when I’m practicing, I just try to think about the follow-through, think about getting my feet set.”
For now, White’s best chances to impress Self may come during practice. But that’s fine, he says, and he’s content to keep watching and learning.
“It took me a little while to turn myself into a good decision maker, and I’m still improving on it every day,” White said. “But you have to learn anyway you can, so I think it’s made me mature a lot faster.”