Gene Swindoll, Gene's Page

Class of 2018 Robert Woodard, Jr. update

Columbus (MS) High School class of 2018 small forward/shooting guard Robert Woodard played in the Hot Bed Classic in New Albany, Mississippi this past Saturday. Gene's Page talked to Robert and his high school coach Luther Riley prior to his game.

  • Name: Robert Woodard
  • Classification: 2018
  • High School: Columbus (MS) High School
  • Position: Small Forward/Shooting Guard
  • HT-WT: 6-foot-6, 220
  • Ranking: 4-Star, Among the top 30 players nationally in his class
  • Colleges of Interest: Has offers from Alabama, Baylor, LSU, Middle Tennessee State, Mississippi State, Tennessee

Most people who follow high school basketball know how good of a player Woodard is. But very few people know the quality of person he is off the court. One of those who does is his head coach Luther Riley.

"Robert, first of all, is a great person who has tremendous character," said Riley. "And he is a great student. I think he has something like a 3.9 to 4.0 grade point average and he is taking advance courses. And he has already passed all of his state exams. A lot of credit goes to his parents and all the people who have had a hand on him.

"He is a kid every coach in America would love to coach. He is a hard worker, an astute young man, a humble kid. He does so much off the court that people don't even realize he does. A teacher came to see me last Thursday to tell me something that he did in her classroom as a leader. He has great leadership skills.

"And he is a great basketball player. Sometimes I forget how great of a basketball player he is due to the type person and student that he is."

How great of a basketball player is he? According to Coach Riley, maybe the best that he has ever coached.

"I've coached a lot of great players during my time as a coach, and I coached in Jackson for 12 years, but I think he ranks at the top of my list," said Riley.

"What makes him special from a basketball standpoint is he is a 6-foot-6 small forward who has an incredible wingspan, and, on top of that, he can really shoot the ball. And his basketball IQ is so far ahead of other guys. I think that is what makes him such a unique athlete."

Although Woodard is very advanced on the court, he realizes that he still has a lot to work to do to be the best player that he can be.

"I am trying to get better with my shooting and sharing the ball with my teammates to help them get open shots as well," said Woodard. "I am also trying to improve my rebounding. And I am trying to just play harder and smarter every game."

Playing hard all the time is something that is being instilled in Woodard by his dad, Robert Woodard, Sr. His dad, who played at Mississippi State, had an award named after him after he finished his career at State, the Robert Woodard Hustle Award.

"My dad and I talk about everything after a game, from the things that I did right to the things that I did wrong, but the things that he talks to me the most about are rebounding and hustling," said Woodard. "He is all about hustling and playing hard as I can the entire game. I am still working on that."

As you would expect, Woodard has numerous schools that are recruiting him, including several that have offered.

"Basically, the same schools are showing interest in me, Mississippi State, LSU, Tennessee, Alabama," said Woodard. "I have the same offers, Mississippi State, LSU, Tennessee, Baylor and Alabama."

One school that is recruiting him hard is his dad's alma mater, Mississippi State.

"They seem very interested in me," said Woodard. "I think they really want me, I think they really do."

He is also impressed with State.

"I like their program," said Woodard. "I like how they play, how hard they work in practice."

He has spoken with Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland and has been impressed with what he has heard from him.

"I have talked to Coach Howland," said Woodard. "I really like talking to him because I learn things from him when we talk. Just listening to him is great. We talk about their basketball program, their system, and what type style that he likes to play. He told me that he likes my shot, my form, my skill of play and how smart I am on the court."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network.

Gene's Page Top Stories