For the first time in his basketball life, Tony Woods isn't the only player on his team that is pushing the 7-foot mark. The Rome (Ga.) High School product said that might be the best thing that can happen to him going into his final go round on the AAU circuit.
Woods, the No. 34 ranked player in the class of 2008, is the middle man for the Georgia Stars 17 and under AAU program. Alongside him is Ralph Samspon, another 6-foot-10 big man, and Al-Farouq Aminu, a 6-foot-9 combo forward.
The trio helped the Stars claim the Southern Shootout over the weekend. Woods said he's already seen an improvement in his game playing alongside both players and with them on the floor.
"I think it helps me a great deal. In my region, I don't even see anyone that tall. So playing against them in practice and with them in games is only going to make me a better player," Woods said. "I don't see that. Ever."
Woods used his athleticism to play above the rim with power over the weekend and showed flashes of what he did in the summer last year that made him climb as high as No. 20 overall in the nation. A self-admitted "so-so" junior year has him motivated to improve his game this spring and summer.
"I feel like my post game is pretty strong but I can always work on moves. I'd like to develop some kind of jump shot outside the free throw line," Woods said. "I've been working on that a lot here in the off season.
"I have the confidence yet to start launching shots like that in games. Ultimately, I have to shoot it and make it or miss it. Just get it out of the way. It's something that I'm working on this year…I feel like I need to get a whole bigger and a whole lot stronger. That's mainly it in terms of separating myself from the post guys."
Already a hot name for a number of high-major schools, Woods said the four schools that come to mind the most at this stage of the game are Florida, Alabama, Connecticut and Georgia.
All of the high-majors have offered, he said, while he's still holding out that North Carolina throws a hat into the mix. He recently visited Duke, along with Aminu, Tanner Smith and Mfon Udofia.
Not necessarily in a rush to decide, Woods said he is keeping his eye on one of the four listed schools and hopes to decide before his senior year.
"Honestly, I do have a team in mind on where I want to go but I don't know if I'm ready to put it out there yet," Woods said. "I'm looking to sign in the fall. I'll probably commit after the summer is over."