Seventh Woods undoubtedly ranks as one of the very best athletes Roy Williams has ever recruited. In fact, he’s likely one of the most explosive athletes recruited to North Carolina in the program’s entire history.
When examining his strengths, then, that’s the obvious place to start. Woods possesses exceptional speed in the open court, and that’s by far where he does his best work. He’s a blur with the ball in his hands and throughout his high school career authored spectacular finishes above the rim.
He’s also extremely quick in the halfcourt game and possesses tremendous long-term promise as a one-on-one slasher.
I also like the fact that his game evolved as he progressed through the prep ranks. Woods began as an athletic phenom and spent his first two years essentially free from criticism due to his acrobatics, but by his rising junior summer (2014) he clearly had not advanced as much in terms of skills as he’d have liked.
But he made meaningful strides in 2015 and through the conclusion of this past high school season. Woods has become a more effective passer — particularly on the break — and also has begun to change speeds more frequently than he did previously.
His jump shot remains a point of contention based on historically so-so results, but I place it in the asset category because I do think his jumper will straighten itself out over time. Woods may never be a great shooter and I expect he’ll very much struggle as a freshman, but by his sophomore season I think he’ll contribute meaningfully from long-distance.
Early on, defense actually may be the end of the court where he excels most. Woods has pretty good size at 6-2 and is solidly built as well, certainly for an incoming freshman. And given his stupendous quickness, he could develop into a dynamic lockdown presence with an overwhelming ability to shift from defense to offense.
Woods also impressed during his career as someone who didn’t lose his emotions, and he should prove easily coachable for the Tar Heels.
What’s his ideal role? Woods is a combo guard but in some ways also is a ‘tweener without a natural fit. As mentioned, he hasn’t scored well from the perimeter on a consistent basis and therefore may not be a reliable wing option, yet he’s hardly a natural point guard, either.
When forced to play upright and walk the ball up the court, he can become extremely turnover prone due to shaky dribbling. Ballhandling looms as his No. 1 skill deficit heading into college.
He also sometimes forgets about his own scoring and becomes too methodical, negating his best assets.
Meanwhile, Woods’s speed and leaping ability actually seemed to regress slightly as an upperclassman, especially his junior year. That phenomenon isn’t as uncommon as you might think, although it’s important to note that he seemed to regain some bounce this past season.
Developing polish will be the top priority for Woods in Chapel Hill. He’ll likely be a rotation player getting a moderate number of minutes next season, but if Joel Berry leaves after the 2016-17 campaign then Woods likely will be the frontrunner to win the point guard job for the following year.
His freshman season may feature some eye-popping moments of brilliance accompanied by stretches of quiet play and the usual rookie mistakes. But even if that proves true, he should be able to take that experience into the offseason and return for a far stronger sophomore campaign.
A Woods-level athlete who can bury jump shots would capture the attention of the NBA, even at his size. He theoretically could be a two-and-done player, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he played three years, either.
Based on talent and a penchant for open court excellence, Woods projects as a potential impact player for the Tar Heels and should prove highly entertaining to the fanbase throughout his tenure on campus.