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Player Preview: Ryan Woolridge

18 days until Kraziness in the Kennel

Ryan Woolridge has big shoes to fill. For the last eight years, 291 games, either Kevin Pangos or Josh Perkins (with the exception of a Perkins 2 game suspension, 1 game injury), and their combined 1,218 assists has been on the floor for the Zags. If that weren’t daunting enough, there were years they were joined by Nigel Williams-Goss or David Stockton. Tough acts to follow.

Woolridge attended Lake Ridge High School in Mansfield, TX, averaging 17.3 points, 6.1 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 3.3 steals at the 5A school. Rated a Rivals 3-star recruit, he accepted and offer to play for the University of San Diego (go Toreros). He stayed a semester at San Diego but never played a game. Homesickness and concern for a mom who’d battled breast cancer and a father diagnosed with prostate cancer caused him to transfer to North Texas without a scholarship. He paid for the remainder of the year out of pocket before getting a scholarship the next season.

In his three seasons at North Texas, Woolridge played in 89 games, starting 76 while averaging 33.4 minutes per contest. He’s averaged 9.3 shot attempts per game, 1.6 of those being 3s with 11.6 points per game. His shooting percentages have been 49% overall and 33% from deep. Last season he shot a career best .581 from the free throw line. For comparison, Shem Karnowski shot .596 his final season. He’s averaged 5.4 assists and 3.2 turnovers for the past two seasons. In one of the strangest stats I’ve ever seen, last year in games when Woolridge committed 3 to 6 turnovers his team was 15-3 with those losses coming against Oklahoma and Western Kentucky (x2). In games he committed 2 or less turnovers, the team was 6-6.

This clip is pretty amazing:

To paraphrase North Texas Coach Grant McCasland, Ryan has a high basketball IQ who puts team before self… he can adjust to a super slowdown half court offense or fast play as needed. 247 Sports Michael Brune says he’s, “ridiculously efficient at the pick and roll, long and agile resulting in steals, rebounds and blocks, an efficient help defender who also irritates bigger guards by picking them up at ¾ court and can smother smaller guards.” In two games against high majors his sophomore season, Ryan had 9 points, 8 assists and 6 rebounds against Oklahoma and 20 points, 9 assists and 7 rebounds against Georgetown.

Looking at his stats, the two major areas of concern are the number of turnovers and his free throw percentage. The turnovers may be mitigated because at North Texas he had the ball “90% of the time” and was relied on offensively as the teams 2nd leading scorer his sophomore and junior years. Kispert, Gilder, Tillie and Petrusev are all substantial scorers and Gilder can also help run the offense. Woolridge should be able to concentrate on ball handling and distribution and less on being a major scoring threat, hopefully decreasing turnovers.

A point guard shooting less than 60% from the line will be a major impediment late in tight games. It will be interesting to see if he can improve his percentage from the stripe, does Few pull him late in close games or will he accept the risk of opponents intentionally fouling him.

The addition of Woolridge completes the Dallas trifecta for this year’s team. Ryan along with Admon Gilder and Drew Timme were all born and raised in Dallas or its suburbs. In a Spokesman-Review article, Woolridge says he and Gilder were teammates on an AAU team in the 5th or 6th grade and played together again in a prep all-star game. Oddly, none of the Dallas trio support the Cowboys with all rooting for the Seahawks. (I made that last part up)

Welcome to Spokane Ryan, best of luck for a successful season and how ‘bout dem Seahawks.