College basketball fans have anticipated the arrival of Seventh Woods since he became a YouTube sensation more than two years ago. On Wednesday, the start of the early signing period for college basketball, he announced his intention to enroll at North Carolina in advance of the 2016-17 season. Woods picked the Tar Heels over South Carolina and Georgetown.
Woods drew national attention when he was a freshman at the Hammond School in his native Columbia, S.C. A mixtape showcasing a collection of vicious dunks made the rounds on social media and blogs and has been viewed more than 13 million times. In 2013, he became the youngest player to make the USA Basketball U-16 team, and earned a spot on SportsCenter’s Top Ten Plays with a powerful, one-handed dunk later that year.
Woods’ combination of athleticism and scoring ability earned him high marks from recruiting analysts—he checks in at No. 40 in the Recruiting Services Consensus Index (RSCI)—and scholarship offers from a slew of high-major programs. This fall Woods narrowed his choices to three (the Gamecocks, Hoyas and Tar Heels).
Woods ultimately elected to leave his home state for the blueblood program in the ACC.
At 6'1", 170 pounds, Woods is renowned for his explosiveness and leaping ability, though he’s not considered a top-flight shooter and there are questions about his capacity to develop into a “true” point guard. Over 11 games this year with his grassroots team, the Carolina Wolves, in the Under Armour Association, Woods averaged 16.9 points and 3.5 assists while connecting on 32% of his threes.
“Woods is an elite athlete with a ridiculously explosive first step, deadly spin move and ability to get to the rim,” Eric Bossi, a national recruiting analyst for Rivals.com, wrote of Woods in May. “He has turned himself into a good playmaker for others and what is best about Woods is that he is going to be a very high-level defender and is arguably as good as it gets in 2016 as an on the ball defender.”
Woods’ decision should reassure North Carolina fans who worried that the Tar Heels would struggle to recruit with the looming possibility of NCAA sanctions due to a widespread academic scandal. After signing only one top-90 prospect in its 2015 recruiting class (shooting guard Kenny Williams), North Carolina already has landed three top-60 players in its 2016 class in 6'10" power forward Tony Bradley (No. 28 in the RSCI), 6'5" shooting guard Brandon Robinson (No. 58) and now Woods.
That group that will help the Tar Heels replace a veteran frontcourt—Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks are juniors, Brice Johnson and Joel James are seniors—and their projected leading scorer, senior guard Marcus Paige. Woods will elevate a backcourt that will feature Williams, Joel Berry, who will be a junior by the time Woods arrives, and Nate Britt, who will be a senior.
North Carolina’s 2016 class won’t rival those of Duke or Kentucky in the rankings. Yet the talent the Tar Heels have has compiled so far is encouraging considering at least one top recruit, Kinston, N.C., native Brandon Ingram, admitted earlier this year that he would have picked the Tar Heels if not for the academic scandal. Ingram, RSCI's No. 4 player in the Class of 2015, chose Duke instead.
UNC could add at least one more player to this class; center Udoka Azubuike and guard Rawle Alkins are among the prospects it is pursuing. In addition, the Tar Heels have secured a commitment from a five-star guard in the class of 2017, Jalek Felton.