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Keyshawn Woods transformed from prolific scorer to complete player

Wake Forest sophomore transfer Keyshawn Woods transformed his game after he transferred to Northside Christian for his junior high school season. He joins the Deacs on the floor this season after transferring from Charlotte.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Dropping 40 on your opponent is a good feeling, but winning is even better according to Wake Forest transfer Keyshawn Woods.

Scoring less actually helped Woods become a more complete basketball player.

“It was fun scoring all those points, but I didn’t win. I didn’t win a championship or anything, all I got was a bunch of points,” Woods said. “Stuff like that don’t impress me. I’d rather average 10 or 15 a game and win, than to average 30 and lose.”

After two prolific scoring seasons at Gaston Day, Woods transferred to Northside Christian where he eventually became a four-star prospect who committed to Charlotte.

“I was identified as a scorer, but I could more than just score the ball. I had to score and do what I did the first two years for my team to win,” Woods said. “When I transferred to Northside Christian with (coach) Byron Dinkins, they had a system in place. They knew I was a type of kid that could play within the system. The main thing with them was I learned how to play defense, and that was a plus side of transferring.”

Woods made yet another decision to transfer, joining the Deacs after playing his freshman year at Charlotte, where he averaged 8.4 points a game while leading Conference USA in 3-point shooting percentage (46.6%).

“My coach got fired,” Woods said about his decision. “Once my coach got fired, and we didn’t know who the coach would be or what players we were getting. I didn’t want to be in a situation where it was a bad year, so I thought it was best for me to leave.”

NCAA transfer rules mandated Woods sit out last year after transferring to the Deacs from Charlotte, but Woods made an impact with his leadership.

This year, he’s eager to contribute on the floor.

“They will see a complete player, and one that will have an impact on both sides of the ball and both ends of the court. He’s versatile and we can plug him in many spots,” Wake Forest coach Danny Manning said when asked what fans will see from Woods this season. “He has a good understanding of what we’re trying to do, having set out last year then going to the Bahamas — he’s been around with us. We’re looking forward to Keyshawn being on the court, first of all. But then having an overall impact on what happens both offensively and defensively.”

Woods decided to transfer from Charlotte after the 49ers had a coaching change, and decided on the Deacs over South Carolina, Creighton and St. Joseph’s.

"The main thing was the education part of it. When I talked to the business school (associate professor Kenny Herbst) who used to play at Wake Forest, he talked about Wake and got me excited about the education,” Woods said. “I know I’m not going to play basketball long. Once it’s over, a degree from Wake Forest is going to take me a long way.”

Though Wake got involved in Woods’ recruitment too late to be considered before committing originally to Charlotte, Manning was in the mix with him while at Tulsa.  

“The relationship I had with coach Manning from when he was recruiting me at Tulsa took it over. They were recruiting me, and I was comfortable with them,” Woods said. “Then coach (Randolph) Childress made me even more comfortable after talking to him and coming up here.”

Manning said he’s happy Woods picked the Deacs.

“It helped that we had some sort of relationship, because we tried to recruit him at Tulsa. He knew some of the guys and he knew coach (Randolph) Childress,” Manning said. “The relationship that he had built with some of our coaches before that was very important as well.”

Manning has been impressed with Woods both on and off the court since joining the Deacs.

“He spends a lot of time in the gym working on his game and trying to better himself as a player. Academically, he takes things seriously. I want these guys to experience the college life and the social part of it,” Manning said. “I’m sure they spend some time with their fellow classmates, and that’s all part of growing up. Everything I know about Keyshawn shows me he’s got a very good balance, from academics to athletics to socially.”

Woods has shown the ability to score in a variety of ways, and is cerebral enough to take whatever the defense gives him.  

“He definitely thinks the basketball game. His versatility allows him to play like that,” Manning said. “I think initially for him, it will be getting back out on the court and feeling the speed of the game again under the bright lights and then going from there. I don’t think his adjustment period will be very long in terms of getting into the swing of things.”

This is the longest stretch without playing an organized basketball game for Woods, and he’s eager to shake off the rust.

“This is the first time ever. I might have missed one game before because I was sick, but sitting out the whole year because of the transfer is the longest I’ve ever had to sit out and not play organized ball,” he said. “I didn’t want to have to wait a whole year to play the game again. But when I thought about what would be best for me, I got over it and mentally prepared myself for that.”

He’s worked on gaining strength during his time at Wake Forest, and believe he comes off ball screens better now since his arrival. He’s seem a marked difference in this year’s team so far.

“The biggest difference is the cohesiveness. We’re more together this year,” Woods said. “We all get along and do things outside of campus. We all get along on the court. We hold each other accountable on and off the court.

“We have to share the ball and be a team. The biggest part of the game is being a team that likes each other. For this team, that’s what we are. We’ve also added more shooters this year. I think the fans will be excited to watch us play this season.”

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