Jeff Neiburg (@Jeff_Neiburg)
Despite his Summit Country Day (Ohio.) squad losing by 22 points at the hands of The Hill School last Friday night, Antonio Woods was in a good mood.
Maybe it helped that he just dropped 22 of his team’s 55 points while pulling in nine rebounds. Or maybe it was playing in front of his future college coach Jerome Allen, or maybe just being in the city that he’ll call home the next four years.
If you ever talk to Woods, you’ll know that it wasn’t his individual performance that had him most excited.
A dual-sport athlete, and quarterback at Summit, Woods committed to Penn in November after turning down offers to play football and basketball at Toledo and Kent State. It’s being a football player, and quarterback especially, that helps Woods be the basketball player he is. He’s been playing both sports since the age of three.
“Playing quarterback forces me to get everyone where they need to be before the play,” Woods said. “It helps me on the basketball court, getting everybody where they need to be and set people up to get open. That’s one thing I’m big on, helping my teammates get open.”
Woods showed off his playmaking ability last Friday, despite not getting much help from his teammates. His ability to get into the lane and distribute the basketball will help him immensely at the collegiate level.
“I think he’s going to have a heck of a career,” Summit coach Michael Bradley said. “After he gets in the system and learns it, he’s not going to have as big a curve as most freshman. We call our sets, we have our terminology, and he’s just a smart basketball player.”
Bradley is very familiar with the city of Philadelphia and the Big 5, having played at Villanova after a stint at Kentucky. He was drafted 17th overall in the 2001 NBA draft by the Toronto Raptors, and had a six-year career in the NBA before heading overseas. His last stop in the NBA was in Philadelphia with the 76ers.
The connections that Bradley made along the way will bode well for Woods’ future at Penn, making the transition to college-life a lot easier for the 6-foot-1 guard.
“This is a great trip for many reasons,” Bradley said of Summit’s trip to Philly and the Don McBride Classic. “He gets to meet Aaron McKie, Alvin Williams, guys who will keep an eye on him that are good friends of mine. This city obviously is a great city, it’s a big sports city.”
Academics was one of the reason’s Woods cited for choosing Penn. The opportunity to play football and basketball also helped, but it’s the history and passion that the Big 5 has to offer that has him so excited.
“There’s so much history, and history is a big thing to me,” Woods said. “Hopefully I can add my name and be a part of it, and make history as well.”
Woods doesn’t yet know if he’ll play both sports at Penn, but Bradley said that no matter what happens, Penn is getting a great kid with a great head on his shoulders.
“He’s a great person, on and off the court,” Bradley said. “His characteristics are both on and off the court. He’s a leader, he’s intelligent, he’s hard-working, and he’s a team player.”
Bradley knows all about getting guys to Division-I basketball, and embraces that role as a high school coach.
“That’s what I try to do,” Bradley said. “I would love to win state title after state title, but if I can get Kevin Johnson ready to play at [Cincinnati] and he’s playing 15 minutes as a freshman, and Antonio to come in and be in the mix as freshman, that’s my job – to get these guys to perform when they are freshman so they don’t have to sit on the bench.”