It’s been nearly a month since North Carolina signee Seventh Woods and Columbia (S.C.) Hammond School were upset in the SCISA 3A semifinals.
During that time, the initial shock of Woods’s five-year varsity career coming to an end has subsided. Now, he’s able to look at his senior season – and career – in a positive light. After all, Woods helped Hammond to national prominence and a state championship in 2015.
“It’s been tough knowing that after school I’m going home rather than going to practice with my teammates,” Woods said. “Even though it didn’t end the way we wanted it to, it was still a season to be proud of. We were ranked for numerous weeks, beat the No. 8 team in the country, won the Chick-Fil-A (Classic), won a tournament in Greenville that we lost last year and won 32 straight. For Hammond to be recognized around the world is tremendous, especially my senior year.”
Arguably Woods’s best game of the season came against county rival Columbia (S.C.) Spring Valley at the Chick-Fil-A Classic in December. He scored a season-high 33 points (10-14 FG, 5-7 3FG, 8-12 FT) and added five assists, four rebounds and three steals.
“This year I was more selfish in a good way,” said Woods. “Last year I tried to pass the ball more often and this year I tried to take over when my team needed it.”
“I had two big goals coming into the season, get Gatorade Player of the Year in South Carolina again and win the state championship,” he continued. “Those two didn’t get accomplished but, as I think, it was one of my best years. Not particularly on the scoring part, but in leadership. Since I’ve gotten there, I’ve been one of the more quiet kids, but on the court I just try to lead by example. I try to let them know it’s OK to make a mistake; just don’t make the same mistake twice. So I really improved on that.”
In late January, Woods suffered a bone bruise in his knee. The injury limited his minutes the rest of the season – he missed four of five games at the beginning of February – including the state playoffs. In Hammond’s season-ending loss to North Charleston (S.C.) Northwood Academy, Woods scored 16 points but was not at 100 percent.
“Going into the second half we were winning and thought we had the game,” Woods explained. “They went on a run and our high school careers were cut short right in front of our eyes. I think it taught us not to take anything in life lightly and I plan to be like that when I get to Carolina.”
Woods’s doctors have said the bone bruise will heal naturally, but it requires him to avoid physical contact and extra pressure on the knee. The doctor-imposed rest has forced him to scale back his off-season workouts.
“I can still get shots up with my injury,” said Woods. “I can shoot all day. I need to be more consistent with my jump shot before I head up to Carolina in June.”
Woods has regular contact with Roy Williams and assistant coach C.B. McGrath. He attended “Late Night with Roy” in October prior to signing with UNC, and then took in UNC’s loss to Duke in the Smith Center in February.
“When Coach Roy was recruiting me, he said he was always going to come see me more than any coach, even if I were to commit and he’s definitely accomplished that goal,” Woods said. “I see myself in the program and I’m really looking forward to stepping on the court with those guys. I’ve been watching them all year, watching Marcus (Paige) and watching Joel (Berry). They really want to get the ball up the floor for fast breaks and on makes or misses. They’re always pushing and that’s my game.”