Thad Mumauâs column runs over at Smartnewsnc.com, and heâs nice enough to let us reprint it on DBR. Thanks Thad!Tony Woods is not your average high school big man.
For one thing, the 6-foot-11 center from Rome (Ga.) High is much stronger than most kids his size and age. And he is also quite an athlete.
"People will be impressed with how athletic he is," Rome coach Keeth Jones said. "He runs the court real well, he has excellent hands and can do a lot of things most young big players can't.
"He does all the drills our guards do, and the extra ball handling has made him more agile. It has also helped his footwork, which is very good. We play some high-low with him, and Tony is a good passer."
Woods, who signed with Wake Forest in November, weighs in at 240 pounds, and he lifts weights every day with the Rome football players. He power cleans 290 pounds, squats 360 and runs the 40 in 4.8 seconds.
He is averaging 17.1 points, 9.2 rebounds, 5.1 blocked shots and 3.5 assists per game, while hitting 67 percent of his field goal attempts and 58 percent of his free throws. He has season highs of 31 points, 15 boards and 11 blocks. He posted a triple-double against Northwest Whitfield.
A three-year starter, Woods averaged 15 points, 11 rebounds and 4.2 blocks as a junior. Rome went 22-7 after losing in the first round of the state playoffs.
"Tony was just developing as a sophomore (8 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 3.5 bpg)," Jones said, "and last year, he was not there yet. I told him he was a pretty good player, that he just had to be stronger. He has bought into that.
"His main weakness right now is that he tries to get to the rim too much instead of taking what the defense gives him. He is not a bad shooter, and he needs to take the 10-footer if it's there.
"Tony has a mean streak in him, and college coaches like that. He does not back down from anybody. He is very aggressive."
Wake Forest and Florida battled for Woods, whose scheduled visit to Gainesville turned out to be the weekend after Gators coach Billy Donovan had accepted the head coaching job with the NBA's Orlando Magic.
"Tony was all set to visit, and his mom had taken time off from her job," Jones said. "So they visited Wake Forest instead. (The late) Skip Prosser really made an impression on Tony's mom.
"Then, even though Coach Donovan changed his mind and went back to Florida, legal issues prevented them from doing anything in recruiting for a while. So Tony didn't hear back from them for three weeks. And he committed to Wake Forest."
When Prosser died in July, there was speculation that Woods, along with fellow Wake commits Al-Farouq Aminu and Wilmington's Ty Walker, might re-open their recruitment. None of them did.
"Tony has gotten a lot of emails praising him for sticking to his word," Jones said. "He felt his word should have some honor. And, although he liked Coach Prosser, he really likes the school. He especially likes Wake's small-school environment. He never wavered; he wasn't going to change his mind.
"Wake Forest is a great fit for him. He is very intelligent and is a conscientious student. He makes A's and B's and does his work."
Woods has improved every year while playing at the high school level, and he still has some distance to go before reaching his potential.
"Yes," Jones said, "he has a huge upside. Right now, his defense is ahead of his offense - like it is with most big guys. But he is working hard and getting better.
"Everybody feels he will be playing for a lot of money one day."
Thad Mumau may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.