Highly recruited college basketball players have huge expectations on them. In today’s age of professionalism in the AAU ranks, fans expect these kids to come into college as finished products. That’s not fair to the student-athletes. That’s not fair to their coaches. That’s not fair to the game of basketball.
Those expectations are further intensified when you have been under the microscope since eighth grade. Such is the case for North Carolina’s freshman guard, Seventh Woods.
Woods is known as an explosive and dynamic athlete, who, because of his YouTube highlight reel has been a known commodity since he started playing varsity basketball as an eighth-grader.
Unfortunately, due to injuries and the pressures of playing point guard at North Carolina, it has been something of a rocky first season for Woods. While there have been brief glimpses of the player he can be (like this ridiculous spin move against NC State), we certainly have not seen the full potential. For much of the early part of the season, Woods played out of control, made errant passes, tried to make too much happen, and actually became something of a ball hog as he tried to figure it all out.
At one point earlier this season, Coach Roy Williams went so far as to say that Seventh had not yet earned his name, so he was going to call him “Sixth” until Woods played like the person he had recruited to come to Chapel Hill.
In Woods’ defense, when your game is predicated on athleticism and explosiveness, injuries can cause major setbacks. This is especially true of a college freshman trying to find his was for the first time in a new environment.
Slowly, but surely, though, “Sixth” Woods has turned things around in ACC play.
From the eye test, Woods does not seem to be in such a hurry any more. He plays more under control. He sees the floor better. But the eye test does not tell us everything we need to know. Only stats can confirm what our eyes are telling us.
One day, Carolina will need more scoring from Seventh Woods, but not this season with all the other scoring options available. Right now, the Tar Heels need Woods to get the ball in the hands of the right people in the right position and to take care of the ball.
It is not the scoring that jumps out at you anyway, it’s the progression of Woods’ assist-to-turnover ratio. Many freshmen come into college, compete well in the non-conference slate of games and then regress as competition gets tougher during the conference season. Not so for Seventh Woods.
In the pre-conference schedule (14 games), Woods actually tallied more turnovers than assists:
- 19 assists
- 25 turnovers
- 8 assist-to-turnover ratio
In ACC games, the numbers are completely different:
- 25 assists
- 10 turnovers
- 5 assist-to-turnover ratio
This is quite the turnaround. For comparison’s sake, in ACC play, Joel Berry has 47 assists and 34 turnovers, for a 1.4 assist-to-turnover ratio. Granted, Joel Berry is not exactly Kendall Marshall, so the Tar Heels are not banking on huge assist numbers from him, but Woods is lapping him in this stat category.
How does Seventh Woods stack up to the rest of the ACC in conference games? While he does not meet the criteria to qualify, if he did, Woods would be second in the conference in assist-to-turnover ratio for conference-only games. Only Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes is higher, with a 3.6 ratio.
Over the last five games, Woods has been even better. While it is an admittedly small sample size, he 11 assists and only two turnovers, for a gaudy 5.5 assist-to-turnover ratio in those five games. In fact, Woods has not turned the ball over in four of those five games, including the trip to Cameron Indoor Stadium to play Duke and the game against Virginia.
With Kenny Williams likely out for the season, the Tar Heels will need more quality minutes from Woods. The good news is that these results are already happening in Williams’ absence.
Woods (and the Tar Heels) will face a big test tonight with the pesky Louisville defense pressing and trying to strip the ball throughout the game.
If he can continue to progress and play with confidence, poise, and wisdom, Seventh Woods might just have finally earned his name.