The Ohio State men’s basketball team will be searching for new leaders both on and off the court following the departure of Keita Bates-Diop and Jae’Sean Tate.
Senior guard C.J. Jackson said this summer that he looks at this team as his, but he might be getting help from graduate transfer Keyshawn Woods.
The redshirt senior guard came to Ohio State following two seasons at Wake Forest. Before that, Woods joined the Demon Deacons from Charlotte, and, during that process, Woods said head coach Chris Holtmann, who previously coached at Butler, attempted to recruit him.
“Coach [Holtmann]’s been recruiting me for a while,” Woods said. “He recruited me out of high school, he recruited me when he was at Butler, when I was transferring the first time, so I already had a relationship with Coach [Holtmann].”
Holtmann said he still won’t let go the first times that Woods failed to join his team.
“You really, as much as possible, try to hold it against him in every day in practice on a regular basis,” Holtmann said.
Woods played in 28 games for Wake Forest in 2017, ending the season with 11.9 points per game, good for second on the team, on 37.4 percent three-point shooting while mostly coming off the bench.
But Woods only ended last year with 1.9 assists per game, down from the 3.5 per game he averaged in 2016, something Holtmann is looking to bring back with Ohio State this season.
“He really does have good feel, good visioning,” Holtmann said. “I think we could play him at a variety of positions, I think he’ll be one of our leading playmakers this year, because of his willingness to move the ball, and it’s been good to see it.”
Woods started to make that adjustment during the team’s trip to Spain in the beginning of August.
In the game on Aug. 7 against Valencia, Woods led the team with four assists in the 95-63 victory.
As he looks to continue making changes on the court, his role as a leader for the team is something he said comes naturally.
“When I was at University of Charlotte and Wake, I’ve always been in that leadership role, since I was a freshman,” Woods said. “That’s something I’m real comfortable with and I don’t have a problem with.”
Now, with Holtmann and Woods together, after a third recruiting attempt, expectations are high following Ohio State’s first NCAA tournament appearance since 2015.
Even with the loss of the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year in Bates-Diop, Woods had high praise for this Ohio State roster coming into the season.
“This is one of the best teams I’ve probably been on,” Woods said. “As a group, and how they are and how close they are, I probably have not been on a team like that, and I’m really excited to play with these guys for a full season.”