UNC Basketball: The transformation of Seventh Woods’ style of play

NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 10: Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels has a conversation with Seventh Woods
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 10: Head coach Roy Williams of the North Carolina Tar Heels has a conversation with Seventh Woods /

Known mainly for his high-flying, flashy dunking ability in high school, junior  Seventh Woods has reinvented his game.

As a high schooler, everyone knew the name Seventh Woods. Whether it was on social media or SportsCenter, his high-flying ability was on display for everyone to see.

Woods officially made his splash into the national spotlight with this highlight, reaching the no. 1 play on SportsCenter at only 15 years old.

From that point on, Woods was a household name.

In his first two years at North Carolina, he scored just 83 points while turning the ball over 54 times in 7.3 minutes per game. Most members of the media and the people who were once awed by his athletic ability were calling him a bust.

Now, fast forward to today, coming off of his career-high 14-point outing against Gonzaga over the weekend. His name is in media once again, but this time it’s for his coming-out party.

For the casual fan who doesn’t know about all the injuries Woods struggled with his first two seasons in Chapel Hill, he was rarely ever close to 100 percent. Before the season started, coach Roy Williams spoke about that to Andy Katz on his March Madness 365 podcast saying “He [Woods] hasn’t been completely healthy here for a single week.’’

Missing 17 games last year with a stress fracture in his leg, and dealing with many nagging knee and ankle injuries his freshman year, this was finally the time for Woods to shine and prove his worth.

After losing the starting spot to freshman Coby White, Woods’ role was still extremely crucial to the success of the team, particularly as someone who had learned to play the point guard position from Joel Berry II.

Though it’s obvious he still has his high-flying athleticism, Woods’ game has evolved tremendously since last season.

Not only does he now know how to play the point guard position at North Carolina, but he oozes with confidence on the court when it comes to his ability and knowing that he is finally healthy.

In an interview earlier this season with the Daily Tar Heel, Woods made that quite clear, noting that when he is healthy he is “a different player.”

Woods has become one of the most important players for the Tar Heels, as he has now developed into a true point guard.

Not only has it been shown with his passing ability, ranked 9th in the ACC in assists per game (4.1), but it’s even more impressive that he is the only player in the top-30 to play under 20 minutes a game (16.4). As a result, he is averaging 10.1 assists per 40 minutes, almost three more than any other player in the conference.

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With games of seven and eight assists already, Woods has an assist rate of 33.8 percent so far this season, 10 percent higher than that of his first two years.

The most impressive part of Woods’ development has been the decrease in turnovers.

Throughout his first two years, that was the major concern for Woods, which limited his minutes on the court.

With an average turnover rate of 31 percent coming into this year, Woods has decreased that by five percent. Normally that would be a result of a large increase in usage, but this year Woods is actually below the average (16.6) of his first two years, stressing how much better he has been protecting the ball.

Behind all the stats is the confidence his teammates have when Woods is on the court, and the calming influence he has over them.

"“[We] depend on him as a veteran stabilization presence,” team scoring leader Cam Johnson told insideCarolina. “I really think he’s done a really good job of just embracing his role and what he brings to the team…”"

Embracing his role has led him to a career-year so far, averaging 4.9 points, 1.9 rebounds, 4.1 assists, 1.4 steals and shooting 50 percent from the field.

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Woods said it best after his Gonzaga performance:

"“I still got a lot more to show,” Woods said. “Tonight, I had 14 points and I’m still not satisfied with that. I’m a great player. I’m just trying to show it.”"