The start of college basketball season remains a few months away, and Ohio State’s full roster was not expected on campus until this past weekend. Since the end of the 2017-18 season, those players who will return to the Buckeyes have essentially had only open gym sessions to work on building chemistry for the upcoming season.
Of late, those sessions have included a pair of faces familiar to college basketball fans: transfer guards C.J. Walker and Keyshawn Woods. And while Walker will sit out this season to satisfy NCAA transfer rules, Woods, a graduate transfer, will immediately join the lineup and assume what is expected to be a significant role during his lone season at Ohio State.
Great to have 2 new Buckeyes on campus! Welcome to Columbus Keyshawn Woods and CJ Walker. #GoBucks pic.twitter.com/ng8KN3cjhF— Chris Holtmann (@ChrisHoltmann) June 7, 2018
According to two of his teammates, the early returns have been encouraging.
“Keyshawn does everything right,” junior center Micah Potter said. “He can have a contested shot, he’ll make the extra pass. He can drive the lane and then it could be help-side defense coming over and he’ll get the ball out. it’s insane. I don’t know I’ve ever played with a guy who’s that unselfish. If it’s an open shot, he’s going to take it, but at the same time sometimes I don’t even expect the ball because it’s a good shot but then he gives it to me and it’s a better shot.
“His unselfishness and want to make the right play is just something that’s going to help our team out a lot. And with him being able to play multiple positions and handle the ball and shoot the ball and get to the cup, everything he does is fluid.”
Woods comes to the Buckeyes after two seasons at Wake Forest and one season at Charlotte. Last year for the Demon Deacons, Woods averaged 11.9 points, 2.5 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. He topped 20 points in three games and scored in double figures in 20 of his 28 appearances.
At Ohio State, he will occasionally play off the ball and occasionally spell projected starting point guard C.J. Jackson, the team’s lone recruited scholarship senior. Jackson and Woods hail from the Charlotte area and faced each other a handful of times during their high school careers.
Jackson described Woods as a special type of player.
“He can shoot the ball,” Jackson said. “He’s just a player that knows how to play the game, and there’s not too many people like that. He can defend multiple positions, so that will help us this year. He’s real easy to get along with, so it’s not like he’s a case off the court.”
He echoed Potter’s thoughts on Woods’ unselfishness as he further discussed why he feels there aren’t many players like the 6-3, 205-pound guard.
“He just knows how to play,” Jackson said. “If a guy hits two in a row, it’s not my turn to take a shot. Look for your teammate. Things like that. It’s really small and minor and it goes a long way just as far as chemistry and bond, especially when you’re playing in a hostile environment on the road. That instills trust, and you’ve got to have that.”
Jackson in particular seemed to shine when he was able to share ball-handling responsibilities with Andrew Dakich last season. A similar situation could be in the offing with Woods this year, but Jackson said he doesn’t mind which guard spot he plays.
“Wherever I’m needed,” he said. “I’m used to playing point guard. I’m accustomed to it now. It doesn’t bother me, playing it the whole game or the whole season. If this team works better with me off the ball, I’ll do it.”