Woods looks like solid fit for Buckeyes’ backcourt
Like most college basketball players, L.D. Williams holds an affinity for his alma mater. That’s why the three-time Wake Forest captain would return to Winston-Salem, North Carolina, during the summer to take part in pickup games with current and former players.
It was there a few years ago that Williams first crossed paths with a new transfer into the program named Keyshawn Woods.
Now a central Ohio resident who is married to Clark Kellogg’s daughter, Talisa, Williams heard during the spring that his fellow former Demon Deacon was considering joining the Buckeyes as a graduate transfer for the 2018-19 season.
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Williams saw it as a perfect fit, and told him so.
“I really wanted Keyshawn to come here because I knew the staff, I knew how they do things here,” Williams said this summer at a workout in the practice gym at Value City Arena. “I felt he could fit in really well here. Great leader. Great locker room guy.”
All of that will be put to the test now as the Buckeyes prepare to open the season Wednesday at Cincinnati. Woods, who will turn 23 in late January, will handle important minutes in the backcourt for a team that will lean heavily on a pair of freshman as well as senior C.J. Jackson.
Assistant coach Ryan Pedon described Woods as having “an old man’s game” reminiscent of former Cleveland Cavaliers great John Bagley. Woods’ teammates have praised him for his unselfishness in the early going, which was on display in Thursday’s exhibition game against UNC Pembroke when he attempted just one shot in the first half while trying to facilitate the offense.
“Getting it underway is exciting,” Woods said as the preseason began. “Being around (my teammates), I’m really happy. I’m really in a good place, physically and mentally. I’m just ready to start playing with these guys.”
Although the starting lineup figures to be fluid throughout the season, Woods might be ticketed for a role off the bench.
Coach Chris Holtmann started freshman Luther Muhammad alongside Jackson against the Braves and afterward said he likes having an experienced option like Woods to come into the game alongside freshman Duane Washington in order to avoid playing two first-year guards simultaneously without a proven ball-handler on the court.
Holtmann cited Woods as one of the team’s top six defenders, meaning he will play significant minutes down the stretch of crucial games.
At the other end of the court, he is expected to shoulder a higher scoring load than he demonstrated against Pembroke, even as he gets his teammates involved. In an Oct. 27 closed scrimmage against Xavier, Holtmann said Woods had 15 points and made three three-pointers in an Ohio State win.
“He’s got a real sense of pride in his work and his effort,” Holtmann said. “He really does. He wants to do the right thing, and he wants to do the right thing every time.”
In other words, Woods is doing what Williams foresaw during the spring and summer months.
“Not overall athletic, so you won’t see any exciting plays above the rim, but he’s a guy that will float around the 50-40-90 (shooting percentages) club,” he said, citing accuracy from the field, from three-point range and from the free-throw line, respectively.
“He’s quiet, so he’s not really demonstrative in his actions, but he just gets the job done.”