Ohio State men's basketball spotlight: Keyshawn Woods

Adam Jardy
Graduate transfer guard Keyshawn Woods will play significant minutes both on and off the ball for Ohio State this season. [Fred Squillante]

Ohio State will open its 2018-19 men's basketball season by playing its first game at Cincinnati in 98 years. The Buckeyes and Bearcats will meet at the newly renovated Fifth Third Arena on Nov. 7, marking only the 11th time the in-state programs have met and the first time they’ve played each other within state lines since 1921. In preparation for the game, The Dispatch is counting down the final 14 days with power rankings for each of the members of the Ohio State roster. The series continues with the 12th player in our rankings.

No. 3: Keyshawn Woods

Position: Guard

Class: Graduate transfer

Height/weight: 6 feet 3 / 205 pounds

Jersey number: 32

Background: A North Carolina native, Woods was the state’s player of the year while playing for Charlotte Northside Christian in 2014 and averaging 17.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game and leading it to a second consecutive state title. He played one season at the University of Charlotte, where he played for former Ohio State assistant Alan Major, and led Conference USA in three-point shooting percentage (46.6 percent) before transferring to Wake Forest three months after the 49ers replaced Major with former Cleveland Cavaliers star Mark Price. He sat out a season, then played two years for the Demon Deacons, where he averaged 12.2 points and made 61 appearances including 28 starts. Woods then signed with Ohio State as a graduate transfer during the spring, giving him one final season of college basketball. You can read Sunday’s story from the Dispatch on Woods’ path to the Buckeyes by clicking here.

2017-18 stats: Woods dealt with a knee injury that limited his effectiveness for Wake Forest but finished with averages of 11.9 points and 1.9 assists while shooting 43.9 percent from the field and 37.4 percent from three. He played in 28 games and made five starts, averaging 25.7 minutes per game.

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Need to know: Woods will turn 23 on January 28. He is the second graduate transfer guard to join the Buckeyes in as many seasons, following the footsteps of Andrew Dakich from Michigan. “Dakich has pretty much told me to be myself,” Woods said. “He’s like, ‘Don’t try to be an outcast, don’t try to be on your own. Make sure you be a part of the team. Go be part of the team. Hang out with the guys and everything will fall into place.’ He’s been helping me a lot through this process.” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann unsuccessfully tried to recruit Woods on two separate occasions: out of high school when Holtmann was the coach at Gardner-Webb, and then when Woods transferred from Charlotte and Holtmann was coaching at Butler. Woods joined Ohio State already acquainted with senior point guard C.J. Jackson, a fellow Charlotte native. The two played against each other on multiple occasions during high school. Ohio State’s coaches and players have nicknamed him “Key.”

Career stats: In stops at two schools, Woods has averaged 10.9 points, 3.1 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 93 games including 30 starts. He averages 27.3 minutes per game and is a career 47.4 percent shooter from the field and 42.5 percent three-point shooter.

2017-18 recap: Woods had 15 double-digit scoring games off the bench, the second-most in program history. He scored in double figures in all five starts and put up a career-high 25 in the season opener against Georgia Southern on Nov. 10. He was hampered by an MCL sprain suffered during the second game of ACC play. “It affected me playing a lot last year, but now I’m pretty much back to myself,” Woods said during the summer of the knee injury. “I spent the whole summer getting healthy and doing everything I had to do in order to be me.” In a Feb. 24 game against Notre Dame, Woods scored 12 points to move him past 1,000 for his career, and he added a season-high six assists. In his final two games of the season, though, Woods went 1 for 13 from the field and scored five points in a loss at Georgia Tech and then a conference tournament loss to Syracuse.

2018-19 outlook: Brought in to give the Buckeyes a second experienced ball handler, Woods will play significant minutes both on and off the ball. He’s been through high-level battles, playing two seasons in the ACC, and will be expected to shoulder significant roles on and off the court on an Ohio State team filled with question marks. Fully healthy, teammates have credited Woods for being unselfish with the ball almost to a point. That much was on display in Thursday’s exhibition game against UNC Pembroke, where he was 0 for 3 from the floor and passed up several shots to get the ball to others. Holtmann brought him off the bench against the Braves in order to avoid having two true freshman thrown into the mix together in Luther Muhammad and Duane Washington Jr., and it seems likely that he will play starters’ minutes while technically serving as a reserve. Woods and Jackson will spend significant time together this season and should allow the Buckeyes to play three-guard lineups for important minutes. Woods has proven himself adept at both scoring and finding teammates during his career, so a question about his fit remains: would Ohio State be better this season if he averages 10 points a game, or five assists per game? “He’s our kind of guy,” assistant coach Ryan Pedon said during the preseason. “He’ll bring a maturity he’s got an old-man’s game to him as well. He reminds me of John Bagley, who moved like he was about 53. Keyshawn, he’s an old man around here but he’s a great kid. I think he’s going to bring a lot of things for our team this year on and off the court.”

Previous power rankings

No. 4: Andre Wesson

No. 5: Luther Muhammad

No. 6: Kyle Young

No. 7: Duane Washington Jr.

No. 8: Musa Jallow

No. 9: Micah Potter

No. 10: Jaedon LeDee

No. 11: Justin Ahrens

No. 12: Joey Lane

No. 13: Danny Hummer

No. 14: CJ Walker


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