Woodall Ready To Lead The Way

It became painfully obvious, after a series of injuries that included getting his front teeth jammed in, that speedy point guard Travon Woodall would need to take a medical redshirt last season.

However, Pittsburgh men's basketball coach Jamie Dixon still knew that he had the program's on-court leader for the future. And when sophomore Ashton Gibbs is included, there are two solid point guards for the next few years.

"We lost a very good point guard in Levance Fields, but we lost Brandin Knight and Ronald Ramon and Carl Krauser,'' Jamie Dixon said. "We've always had a couple of point guards in the program and that's what we were preparing for when we recruited Ashton and Travon.

"We took two very good point guards in the same class and two guys that can play together, too, for this reason. You lose a guy, a very good player, but we couldn't be in a better situation than we are. We couldn't be in a better position (at point guard) than where we are with these two guys.''

While Travon Woodall is more the typical point guard with Gibbs the sharper shooter, senior Chase Adams needs to be added into the mix. The senior transfer from Centenary can play both spots as well, but brings experience that the others don't have at either position.

Woodall described it succinctly. Chase probably is the stronger defender, while Ashton is the better shooter, he said, and I'm the quickest. Woodall also is a quick learner, and he couldn't have had a better teacher.

"I was here last year, and I didn't play,'' Woodall said. "But I learned from a great player like Levance Fields, and just being in this program for a whole year has helped me. I'm a smarter player, a better player, and a lot stronger. Just being here for a year, I'm a whole lot stronger and more physical.

"I definitely understand what it takes to be a point guard at Pitt. People want me to be the next Levance, Carl, Brandin Knight, or whatever, but I just have to be Travon. I can't really step into anybody else's shoes, I just have to wear mine. I'm ready to do that, (and) I fit right in there.''

Woodall believed he was the perfect fit for Pitt's offense as he quarterback.

"Me and Ashton played together when we were younger, so we know each other very well,'' Woodall said. "And I think we work together real well. Ashton is a great shooter, and I've played with great shooters before like Michael Rosario (at St. Anthony's). So, I know where he likes the ball and what spots to put it in to make his game more effective.

"For me, I'm a speedy guy. I can get the ball up and down the court, and he'll be able to spot-up for me to find him. Maybe you guys might not think that Ashton can keep up, but he's gotten a lot faster. A lot faster. So, you're going to be surprised when you see him. We work well together, so it's just a matter of getting our chance in a game.''

Woodall probably shot a bit too often in the Blue-Gold intrasquad scrimmage Tuesday night, but he was 4-for-9 (1 of 4 on 3-pointers) with 2 of 5 free throws. And more importantly, he had eight assists and five steals in 32 minutes. Adams was the recipient, for the most part, with 21 points on 8-for-11 shooting and 5 of 7 on 3-pointers.

Woodall believed all three guards, he, Adams and Gibbs, could play together.

"I have no idea how things are going to work out, but I know that Coach Dixon's going to do a great job handling things,'' Woodall said. "And he'll definitely put us in a great position to do some things to help the team. We're all different types of guards, and we all bring something different to the team.

"So, we all could get in there at the same time or different times, and I do believe that whatever guy is playing better, Coach Dixon will let them keep playing. That's the way you earn more minutes, by playing good at both ends. You have to play defense for Coach Dixon, so we'll see who does that.''

Coach Dixon was asked about playing small with three guards.

"What we'll do, and what we've done this in the past with Travon, Ashton and Chase as well, and Jermaine Dixon, is that they're going to be interchangeable in two spots,'' Coach Dixon said. "We've done that in the past with Ron and Levance. I've seen three point guards on the court, and we've done that.

"I like the versatility that they bring and their ball handling and the quickness will usually come with it. Obviously with Jermaine being out, it's going to change that a little bit early on, but eventually we're going to have those guys interchangeable. It's what we've done often, and it makes everyone better.''

And after watching Woodall in the preseason, he's certainly better prepared to handle whatever role he plays for the Panthers this season.

Panther Digest Top Stories