N.C. recruiting analyst Mike Talbott thinks that the best player on the best team in the state is Northside Christian senior small forward Keyshawn Woods.
I do, too.
Woods, a 6-foot-4, 185-pound senior used to be a high-scoring wing at Gaston Day. As a freshman and sophomore he was among the most prolific scorers in the state. But each year, he’s added more to his game. Today, he plays great defense. He always shot it well, but now he can shoot from behind the 3-point line. If you’re playing against him, probably the last thing you want to see is an open Woods sitting in the corner with his hands at the ready, yelling “Yo! Yo!”
Best of all, Woods just plays hard. It’s what separates him from many of his peers, and it’s the reason why Charlotte’s 49ers, in my view, are getting a player who will be able to help them from Day One.
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“I like him a lot,” said Talbott, who has covered N.C. prep basketball for his Star Hoopers of Tomorrow since 1995. Today, his publication goes to 33 colleges and universities about 10 teams per month. “He can do everything. He works hard and he has good intensity, which is the No. 1 trait you can have as a player. He just plays harder than most kids.”
There were flashier and higher rated players at the N.C. Independent Schools championships. United Faith sophomore point guard Ty Gadsden had a coming out party for himself this week; highly regarded sophomore Dennis Smith Jr. of Fayetteville Trinity Christian looked like a future McDonald’s All-American; and High Point Wesleyan’s Theo Pinson, the North Carolina recruit and All-American, played the part of hero, leading his team to a dramatic come-from-behind state championship overtime win versus Greensboro Page. Pinson was the best player at the event.
But Woods was his normal steady self. He had 12 in a 91-43 quarterfinal win over Victory Christian where he didn’t play much in the second half. He poured in 29 in a 77-45 win over Asheville Christian in the semifinals Friday. Saturday, he led the Knights to a third straight 2A title with 22 points, four rebounds and three assists in a 87-68 win over Concord First Assembly.
“Keyshawn is Keyshawn,” Knights coach Byron Dinkins said. “He’s a great player. He works hard and things happen for him. He showed again why he’s one of the top players in the state.”
And Woods has this ability to make playing look easy. He has that rare midrange game, where he can score effectively betwen the 3-point line and the paint, using a variety of one-dribble and two-dribble pull-up moves that look like they were honed after hours and hours of practice.
ESPN ranks Woods No. 18 among seniors in North Carolina. Me? I think he’s at least 10 spots higher. Talbott seems to agree.
“Charlotte’s getting a steal,” Talbott said. “I think he’ll be really, really good at Charlotte. He’s got a well-rounded game. He can do some of everything.”
Woods said he can’t wait to get to to college.
“It’s all guns blazing,” he said this week with a smile. “They told me they just want me to come in and just play. Just play, man.”
And that’s what Keyshawn Woods does best.