Epiphany Woodson won three state championships at Providence Day before she graduated in 2007. She’s one of the 10 or 15 best girls’ players ever from Mecklenburg County.
Now Woodson feels she might be coaching a player who could be an all-time great, just like her.
Woodson is an assistant coach at Myers Park, working under her old high school coach, Barbara Nelson. That gives her a close-up view of 5-foot-9 junior point guard Aliyah Mazyck every day in practice and two or three times a week in games.
Mazyck was fighting a virus during Tuesday’s 53-35 win over West Forsyth in the state quarterfinals. She was literally playing half-speed. There were very few of her traditional hyper-speed cross-overs and drives to the basket that keep opposing coaches up late at night trying to figure how to cut her off.
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She still made a few plays – a wicked cross-over that left a defender falling as Mazyck leaned into a pretty fadeaway jumper; a drive to the basket where she jumped over and around a defender trying to take a charge – that made Woodson shake her head.
“Aliyah Mazyck,” Woodson said in a hallway at the Greensboro Coliseum, “is a second away from great. She’ll be better than I was as a junior. I have to give it to her. She can pretty much do it all.”
Mayzck, of course, is lucky to have a former star like Woodson, who was a dominant point guard, advising her every day in practice. Woodson played at Miami and then at Charlotte before playing pro ball in Europe. She thinks that with some improved decision-making, shot selection and attention to defense, Mayzck will be on the same type of path.
“She’s continiously getting better,” said Woodson, who is finishing work on her master’s degree at Charlotte and hopes to be a head coach some day. “She means well. She’s an awesome player. I love to watch her play. She’s a joy to coach, a joy to be around. She’s finally gotten to the point where she’s listening and she’s ready to take herself to the next level.”
Like her former All-American player, Nelson marvels at Mazyck’s ablity.
Mazyck, who is getting attention from colleges in the ACC, SEC and PAC-10, is ranked as high as No. 37 nationally in her class. She wants to be a McDonald’s All-American next season, and if she keeps developing at this rate, she’ll have a shot.
She has incredible speed and quickness, and she handles the ball as well – or better – than any girls’ player I’ve seen this season. She defends. She’s hungry for the ball, and I love her demeanor. She chews her gum. She talks a little, but she doesn’t react to much of anything.
She just keeps coming.
“Aliyah is so good because she plays the game with such body control,” Nelson said. “She watches the game all the time and she plays against guys all the time. And she’s a basketball junkie, and when you love the game like she does, you soak it up constantly. She’s learned to take her God-given abilities and add the mental side to it.”
From where I sit, it’s become quite a scary combination.