If you’ve seen Seventh Woods play in the last three years, there are a few things you’ve noticed.
His rare athleticism sticks out with every highlight-reel dunk. His blend of speed, balance and quickness shine through every steal and come-from-behind block.
What you don’t see a lot of is emotion.
He doesn’t dunk and scream. He doesn’t strut.
Don’t confuse a lack of emotion, however, with a lack of intensity and desire.
“I call him a psycho, because he’s actually not afraid of anything,” said Marseilles Brown, Woods’s longtime trainer. “He’ll crash into people at speeds that are ridiculous. He’ll go for your throat in crunch time. He’ll crash into you going for a rebound. He’s hit his head on the backboard and knocked a tooth out. He’s not afraid of anything or anybody. A lot of people don’t know that about him.”
Perhaps no one is better equipped to provide commentary on Woods’s demeanor than Brown. The owner of Hoops and Life, Brown has been training Woods since he was in the 7th grade. The intimate relationship of player and trainer has provided Brown with unique insight into the evolution of Woods’s game.
“We work out pretty much all year long,” Brown said. “Before this season started, we were up four days a week and worked out at 6 a.m. before school for about a month. In the summer, we’ll do similar stuff because during the offseason I’m going to destroy him physically. During his high school and AAU seasons, we’ll adjust based on how he’s playing and what needs attention right at that moment.”
Every workout starts with a similar warm-up, before going into that day’s focus. No matter the session, though, there’s one thing Brown always works on with Woods.
“We pay a lot of attention to his jump shot,” said Brown, who played collegiately at both Richmond and Hampton, and was the CAA’s rookie of the year in 1997. “We’re steadily trying to improve it.”
That improvement has come from comfort and repetition.
“Whenever I’m training someone, I want them to be as comfortable as possible,” Brown said. “You shoot however you’re comfortable shooting. For Seventh, his big thing is he’s comfortable with a one-second follow through. I’d say a normal one is around two seconds. All we focus on is feet, form and follow through. We recreate the same thing: feet, form and follow through. He already has good form; he just needs more reps and continued fine tuning.”
When Woods’s mix tape went viral at the end of his freshman season, the athletic feats he achieved seemed unreal. Brown admitted that for a stretch over the last two years, those feats and plays have been absent from Woods’s game.
“I noticed it last year, too, but it’s back,” said Brown. “At the start of the season, his bounce was back. I kept asking and he kept saying ‘my bounce is back.’ It’s showed too in how explosive he is.”
Through it all, Brown said he can boil down the theme and purpose of his time with Seventh into one phrase.
“Be the best Seventh you can be,” Brown said. “That’s what his mom told him, that’s what I tell him. You’re not Westbrook. You’re not (Derrick) Rose. You’re just Seventh.”
When Woods enrolls at North Carolina in less than six months, Brown believes Woods will only continue to improve.
“He’s probably the best on-ball defender I’ve seen on the high school level,” explained Brown. “When he gets to North Carolina, I can’t wait to see how good he becomes at that and as an overall player. Imagine how many shots he’s going to get up and how much quicker and stronger he’s going to be. He’ll be competing against great players three or four hours a day, almost every day. That’s going to push him into being the best Seventh he can be.”