LOUISVILLE — Seventh Woods became a household name for college basketball fans as a 14-year-old wunderkind who exploded on the national scene with a hugely popular mixtape.
The mixtape — which has 13 million views to date — catapulted Woods into another stratosphere among the players in his class at a very young age and it saddled him with unfair future expectations going forward.
After breaking his wrist and missing a lot of grassroots basketball last spring and summer, Woods became an afterthought among fans as other players surpassed him in the national rankings. Rivals still has Woods as a five-star prospect and the No. 18 player in the Class of 2016, but he’s no longer generating the buzz that he used to.
After his performance on Saturday against touted North Carolina commit Jalek Felton, the message became clear: Seventh Woods hasn’t gone anywhere.
Woods was impressive, going for 25 points, five rebounds and five assists and knocking down three 3-pointers, as he scored around the basket using his trademark athleticism while also showing an improved — but still a tad inconsistent — perimeter jumper.
When Woods back-ironed a two-handed dunk on a break, you knew his leaping ability, post-knee injury, was still at an elite level. It was great to see Woods shake off the former cobwebs of the injury and he definitely lived up to his current five-star status. Woods has clearly worked hard to recover from his injury and deserves the attention of college basketball fans going forward.
He’s still oozing with ability and a ton of fun to watch.
Markelle Fultz is the real deal
Among national media and scouts, 6-foot-4 wing Markelle Fultz became a must-see prospect for this spring after a huge junior season placed him in the top 25 of the Class of 2016 rankings.
Fultz went for 26 points and seven rebounds in an easy win over Team Superstar and he showed why he’s emerged as a serious national prospect with 28 scholarship offers. With long arms and quick feet, Fultz can make plays off the dribble or hit jumpers and he’s comfortable in his own skin with the ball in his hands.
Currently listed as a four-star prospect and the No. 24 player in the Class of 2016, Fultz could push five-star status and future All-American status if he has a strong spring and summer against elite competition.
Josh Jackson has an up-and-down day
Splitting time between the Nike EYBL and the Under Armour Association on Saturday meant that I didn’t get a chance to catch Josh Jackson’s ridiculous 41-point, 7-assist, 6-rebound performance earlier in the day.
By the time I got to Louisville, Jackson’s performance from the day had media and coaches buzzing. As the No. 1 player in the Class of 2016, according to Rivals, this is the kind of chatter you want to hear about the top dog.
Naturally, that buzz carried over to Jackson’s Saturday night contest against Philly Pride, but he didn’t sustain the level of production from earlier in the day.
In fact, Jackson seemed disinterested in attacking the basket until the second half, as he went 5-for-14 from the field and finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
Inconsistent efforts have been apart of Jackson’s resume before, but when he decided to turn it up a notch in the second half, he was completely unstoppable for a sequence of plays. He knocked in a deep 3-pointer before finishing with a gorgeous spin drive and a mid-range pull-up. Jackson also threw in a ridiculous block for good measure just to showcase his fantastic athleticism.
There is no doubting that Jackson is a premier talent in high school basketball — and playing two games in one day is never easy and something he’ll never have to do in college basketball — but it wouldn’t hurt if Jackson decided to bring his earlier level of consistency and production every game out.