A North Carolina native, Keyshawn Woods grew up a fan of the team now known as the Charlotte Hornets.
It was somewhat a dream come true, then, when the former Ohio State graduate transfer guard was afforded the opportunity to suit up for his hometown team for a workout in late May. It was the only workout the native of Gastonia, North Carolina, earned after leading the Buckeyes to the NCAA Tournament in his lone season, but it was meaningful for the experienced guard.
“I enjoyed it a lot,” Woods told The Dispatch after playing in the Kingdom Summer League on Sunday at South High School. “It’s my hometown team; (I was) growing up going to games and stuff. It meant a lot. Any opportunity is a great opportunity and I was just glad I was able to play and have fun and work out with them.”
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How’d it go?
“It went well,” he said. “It was a good experience to go through an NBA workout. A lot of shooting, a lot of competing, being around guys you played against in the Big Ten and the ACC. It was fun. I enjoyed it a lot.”
In his lone season with the Buckeyes, Woods averaged 8.1 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists but saved his best play for the end of the season. Woods scored in double figures in seven of his final nine games, averaging 13.0 points during that stretch and tying a season high with 19 points in a first-round NCAA Tournament win against Iowa State.
Now he’s working on his game and preparing to begin his professional career.
“I’m going overseas after the TBT, more than likely,” he said. “I don’t know (where) yet. I’ll know in a few weeks where I’m going to go.”
Woods will suit up for team Big X in The Basketball Tournament alongside a pair of fellow former Buckeyes in Jae’Sean Tate and C.J. Jackson. Sunday, Tate spoke with The Dispatch about the event and his NBA Summer League experience, and you can read his comments in this story. The team will be coached by Andrew Dakich, another former Ohio State graduate transfer who was a graduate assistant on last year’s team. You can read some of Dakich's thoughts on the tournament by clicking here.
If Big X wins its opening-round game Friday at Capital’s The Capital Center, it could face the official Ohio State alumni team. Dubbed “Carmen’s Crew” and coached by Scoonie Penn, the roster is expected to include the likes of Deshaun Thomas, Jon Diebler, Aaron Craft, William Buford, Lenzelle Smith Jr. and others.
“Taking orders from Andrew, it’s cool,” Woods said. “I’ve been working out with Andrew since I’ve been here, so it’s kind of nice. It’s going to be nice, playing and competing in organized ball. I know we’re playing for money, but at the end of the day I’m playing with some guys I know and I’m getting to play organized ball again and getting to play for some money as well for the first time.
“It’s going to be fun, and if we do get to play Carmen’s Crew, it’ll be good. I’ve been working out with those guys all summer. Everybody’s been talking junk back and forth and having fun with it. Most importantly, just want to have fun.”
In his Kingdom Summer League debut, Woods scored six points while playing alongside Ohio State junior forward Musa Jallow. As most former Ohio State players often do during the summer, Woods said he played in open gym games against and with current team members twice last week.
There’s one player he remains excited to see this season.
“CJ Walker,” he said. “That’s the one. He’s dialed in, very mature and I’m just happy to see him finally get to go back out there and play because I’ve been in his shoes and had to sit out a whole year not getting to play ball. I just know he’s hungry and ready to play, so I can’t wait to see him play.
“It was good to be around the guys again, getting to see the freshmen. They’ve got a lot of talent and I can’t wait to see what they do this season. They’ve got a heck of a schecule and I know for a fact coach Holtmann, coach Terry are getting them ready for the season so we’ve just got to see what happens.”