CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Keyshawn Wood figures to make an immediate impact for the Deacs.
He sat out last season after transferring to Wake Forest following his freshman season at Charlotte, where he led Conference USA in 3-point shooting percentage (46.6).
Wake Forest coach Danny Manning answered questions about Woods, freshman forward Donovan Mitchell and the Deacs trip to the Bahamas in the first installment of his interview with the media at ACC Operation Basketball Wednesday.
On Donovan Mitchell
Manning: “Donovan is a very capable shooter. Donovan can make a three, but I think he’s much more effective playing in-between. I like his pull-up game and his driving ability to force help. He does a good job of finding open players when he forces help on dribble penetration. He is certainly someone who is capable of making a shot also.”
On improving foul shooting
Manning: “I always use the analogy of Shaq and Wilt Chamberlain. Those are two great basketball players, and two Hall of Famers — two of the best to ever play the game, but they struggled at the free throw line. They had all types of help and all types of money to throw at it. It improved some, but not to the point of saying that they were the guy you wanted to put on the line when you need somebody to knock down a couple of free throws. So a lot of it is either you’re a good shooter, or you’re not. If you’re an okay shooter, you can improve. But certain guys just aren’t able, for whatever reason, to make shots from that spot.”
On being prepared for the start of the season
Manning: “For us, we had the chance to go to the Bahamas. We practiced for eight days and went to the Bahamas for three games. That trip was very beneficial for us in terms of being able to implement base offense and base defense. We started practice a few days later than most other teams, and I even gave them off last weekend — because it’s a long year. As far as things being implemented system-wise, we’re further along right now than we ever have been in the three years I’ve been here. We don’t run everything great. We still need to tighten things up. But the base is in and we feel good about it.”
On why he feels they are ahead of schedule
Manning: “A lot of it just has to do with going to the Bahamas, to be honest with you. We got to prepare to play three games over there. Our guys did a fairly good job of retaining the information when we came back for the start of school. It’s been a little bit of rehashing, to get those guys familiar with what we’re trying to do. It’s cut down on the teaching, I guess, is the best way to put it to start off the season.”
On what he saw encouraging in the Bahamas trip
Manning: “We’re a better shooting team. There are a lot of other areas we certainly need to improve in, but I feel like shooting is something we will see some sort of improvement.”
On Keyshawn Woods
Manning: “He has a wonderful redshirt campaign for us. I’ve never been around a kid who improved and embraced the redshirt year like he did. He’s a gym rat. He like to be in gym and the weight room. He led our scout team last year. He played point guard most of the time, because we thought that’s something that would enhance his game. He did very well at that. More important, was his leadership skills. He was a leader in a lot of ways as a redshirt player, and that speaks volumes, when you come in your first year, you aren’t playing games and you take on responsibilities in that leadership category. He does it all. He can score at all three levels.”
On how Woods has changed
Manning: “We were very fortunate. We recruited him when we were at Tulsa. We had an established relationship with him. When he wanted to leave Charlotte, we got to spend some time with him and his family. It worked out well, and we’re very happy he’s here. What he brings to the table — I talked about his leadership qualities and his basketball qualities of scoring at all three levels. At Charlotte, he shot the ball exceptionally well from the 3-point line. Being around him the last year-and-a-half or so, I’m really impressed with his in-between game. He’s able to get into that pull-up game and hit some shots. That’s something that really surprised me. I think what he brings to the table is that he’s a complete package. Off the court, his leadership, how he cares for academics as well is very impressive. I’m happy he’s able to play and happy we have him. I’m looking forward to his next three years with us.”
On what Woods’ role may be this season
Manning: “He’s not going to be a true point guard for us all the time. He’s the guy I consider a combo. He can play on the ball or off the ball. I’ll play him anywhere from point guard to power forward, in the sense of guarding a 4. Many times in our league, teams go small. He’s physical enough and understands it well enough to be a really versatile glue piece for us and make a contribution for us on the offensive end. I’m going to use him all over. It just depends on matchups and foul trouble. He’s someone that will be on the court.”
On if Woods was anxious getting to play again
Manning: “That’s natural. If you’re not excited to play after sitting out a year, something might be a little wrong with you in that regard. I know he was excited to play over there (Bahamas). He did some good things for us and is looking forward to the season. Keyshawn is a very mature young man. He’s kind of an old soul — his mannerisms and his actions. He appears to be much older than a sophomore on the court when you spend time with him.”
On Woods facing his old team, Charlotte, this season
Manning: “I think the biggest thing I’ll share with him at some point is to understand that when you play Charlotte, that he’ll see Charlotte fans. You know what I mean? When I was in college and I came back to play NC State. There were NC State fans there, and NC State fans are going to cheer for NC State. They’re going to support NC State. They’re either cheering for their team or showing disapproval toward you in some form. That’s just something I’ll share with him at some point and time, but that’s just part of it. He’s mature. He can handle it, and even embrace it. That’s what you have to do anytime you play on the road anyway.”