There haven't been many players in the 2013 cycle that have seen their recruitment pick up as much as Graham Woodward. We spoke to the Executive Director of Graham's AAU club a few weeks ago and we were fortunate enough to catch up with Graham himself about how his recruiting has progressed. Remarkably, in the span of about a month, things have changed tremendously. Most notably for Gonzaga fans is the fact that the Bulldogs' are greatly interested in the 2013 point guard from Edina, Minnesota. They are not alone, however, as the line for Woodward's services has gotten very, very long.
As we have discussed a number of times, a huge reason for the upward trajectory in Graham's recruitment is due to his incredible play during the July evaluation period. According to Graham, seeing his team come together and play at a high level was the most rewarding aspect of the AAU season.
"It was a fantastic month and I was the most happy with the success of the team. We made a good run in Indy, won the tournament in Minnesota, and lost in the semifinals of Super 64 in Vegas by 1 point to the eventual champion. The biggest thing that clicked is that our team got into a great flow, everyone knowing their roles and playing hard. For me it was the challenge of playing against the best competition which brings out the best in my game."
Detractors of Woodward will point to his size (listed at 6'0'', 160 lbs per Rivals) as a major weakness heading into the next level. Woodward proved over the summer, however, that he has a number of incredible qualities that one lucky school will have at their disposal when he signs on the dotted line.
"I bring multiple aspects to a team - quickness, running a team and seeing the court, good handles, effective at on-ball screens, and then being able to score in a variety of ways-pull up, floaters, or hitting 3s," Woodward explained "I continue to work on being more vocal - I lead more by example and talking one to one with each player and I need to realize when to be louder."
As mentioned in the intro, Graham's recruitment has absolutely blown up over the past couple months. With numerous offers from all levels of division one, Woodward is now in the process of narrowing things down as he looks to make a decision next month.
"I have more than 15 offers, but I am really narrowing that down. I have taken officials to Washington State and Drake. Gonzaga, Washington State, Penn State, Princeton, Drake - maybe a couple others (are standing out at this point)."
Woodward is working on setting up an official visit to Gonzaga right now and we will provide you with an update when we learn that date. Rather than waiting for Graham to come see the, the staff actually took a trip out to the Twin Cities to visit with Graham and his family.
"(The visit) went great. I really like Coach Lloyd - he's a great coach, person, and really knows what it takes to be successful at Gonzaga. He gave us a great perspective on what Gonzaga is all about and I was very impressed."
Like many prospects, Graham maintains that distance from home will not play a major role in his final decision but he definitely has a list of what he wants from his college destination.
"(There are) four things - Strong academics, great basketball tradition, coaches that believe in me, and team chemistry - guys like me," Woodward said.
With Sam Dower on the roster currently and the staff also pursuing 2014 forward Reid Travis, there has definitely been an increased focus on the Minneapolis region. Graham notes that this focus is definitely something that he is aware of.
"Sam is a great player! It's great to see how well he is doing at Gonzaga, and when Minnesota guys come to a program and do well it certainly impacts my decision," said Woodward. "Reid and I are very close after playing together this past summer - I would love playing with Reid at the next level."
With Graham hoping to end his recruitment sometime next month, things are obviously going to move at a very fast pace from here on out. Woodward seems like an incredible fit for the program as he has the type of skill set that Mark Few seems to work very well with and he could learn a great deal under Kevin Pangos. We thank Graham for taking the time to chat with us and will keep you all updated as we hear new development in his recruitment.