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Team Preview: Woodz Elite (AR)

By D1 Circuit Staff, 07/06/18, 6:15PM CDT

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Season Recap

Arkansas’ NIKE Elite Youth Basketball League affiliate changed their program’s name before the 2018 season, but the result was the same; a trip to Peach Jam. The newly-branded Woodz Elite spent the majority of the regular season ranked inside the top 15, and feature one of the most balanced rosters on the circuit. The Malik Monk-backed program experienced success in last year’s Peach Jam, advancing to the final eight. Woodz employs a rotation that goes 10-11 deep, and if big man Jason Jitoboh returns to health in July, they will have all of the pieces to make a run.

The Star(s)

One aspect that makes Woodz Elite special is the fact that they all share the load evenly. While their rotation is talented from top to bottom, they don’t have a player that’s going to necessarily take over a game. Mylik Wilson is their most highest-ranked player and enjoyed a solid regular season (12.4 PPG, 3.3 RPG, 1.9 APG). The junior guard is a talented scorer and playmaker, and played his best basketball during the second half of the season. Outside of Wilson, a bevy of players are capable of doing damage for Woodz, which makes it imperative that they’re playing cohesively. Juniors Austin Crowley and Collin Moore are both capable of having big games, while Curtis White and Tylor Perry have each led the team in scoring. They’re long, athletic, and play strong defense, three characteristics that have allowed them to overcome their lack of a true star.

The Backcourt

Wilson (247 Composite No. 125), Crowley (247 No. 59), Moore, White and Perry all see major minutes for Woodz, who deploy one of the deepest rotations at Peach Jam. Wilson is the leading scorer, while Moore is the most aggressive of the bunch, evidenced by his team-high 56 free throw attempts. The 6-foot-6 Crowley (7.1 PPG) provides Woodz with a long, athletic, attacking guard who excels in transition. White joined the fray after the first session, but the 6-foot-5 scoring guard signed with SMU in late June and is now a part of the 2018 class. Junior Tylor Perry, who returns to Peach Jam after running with MOKAN a year ago, drained a team-high 21 three-pointers - making them at a 50 percent clip. Terry Clardy (4.4 PPG) rounds out the five-man bench for Woodz, and their defensive efficiency doesn’t drop off when they look to the bench will need someone to step up and take on the majority of the scoring load. There aren’t many teams that can match Woodz Elite’s productivity defensively, making Woodz a tough roll-of-the-dice for their opposition.

The Frontcourt

6-foot-11 junior big man Jason Jitoboh was terrific through the first seven games, but unfortunately was lost due to a foot injury. Jitoboh will get his boot off in early-July, making it unlikely he’ll have enough time to participate in Peach Jam. 6-foot-6 sophomore Chris Moore - also a member of Woodz Elite’s stacked 16U roster, picked up the slack during the final session, averaging 13.4 points and 7.2 rebounds per game. It’s unknown if Moore will run with with 17s or 16s at Peach Jam, and both teams would receive a massive lift by his presence. Moore, a star at West Memphis high school, is one of the strongest players in the country, and has a god-gifted ability to rebound the basketball. 6-foot-8 junior Akol Mawein is one of the more underrated bigs on the circuit. Mawein (7.4 PPG, 5.4 RPG) offers versatility and rebounding ability that will be crucial for a rather thin Woodz Elite Jitoboh-less frontcourt. Mawein is expected to receive a big workload, especially after ending the season with his two best performances of the season (11 PTS, 10 REB; 16 PTS, 7 REB). Junior Michael Shanks will receive a large workload alongside Mawein, operating as Woodz Elite’s glue-guy. Shanks (6.6 PPG, 4.1 RPG) is joined by undersized small forward Greg Johnson, rounding out a five-man rotation.

Prognosis

Defensively, Woodz Elite is about as good as it gets in grassroots basketball. Their disciplined, maniacal approach to stopping their opponent resulted in them holding their opponent under 61 points in eight of their 16 games. They had their best scoring output of the season in the circuit’s final four-game session, scoring 81 points per game in three wins while shooting over 50 percent from the floor. If they can continue to put the ball in the basket with that type of efficiency, the Woodz are going to be a headache for everyone involved in Pool D. They hold four regular-season wins over Peach Jam opponents, including two over pool-play foes the City Rocks and the Renaissance. Their best win was a 17-point drubbing of the Bluff City Legends, and if they channel those type of performances in mid-July, Woodz will be playing in the latter half of Peach Jam.

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