When Keyshawn Woods chose UNC Charlotte, then-Gardner Webb head coach Chris Holtmann didn't give up on coaching him. When Woods transferred to Wake Forest, Holtmann was at Butler and he still tried to lure Woods to Indianapolis.
But it seems as if Woods and Holtmann's paths have always been destined to cross.
After Woods transferred to Ohio State this past April, with Holtmann already in Columbus, a dream became a reality. Now, the duo will team up to try and will the Buckeyes to a second consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament.
After returning from the team's 10-day trip to Spain, Woods spoke to reporters Wednesday at the Schottenstein Center.
"Originally, I wanted to go somewhere I could get healthy. I wanted to go somewhere I knew I could play and be a big factor, and also, a team that has an opportunity to go to the (NCAA) Tournament," Woods said. "Coach Holtmann has recruited me for awhile now. He recruited me out of high school. So I already had a relationship with him. The way they do things, the way the guys are really close, that drew me here."
After finishing 25-9 overall last year and falling to Gonzaga in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the Buckeyes lost three of their top five scorers.
Woods, who averaged 11.9 points with the Demon Deacons last season, is hoping to help fill that void. He's taking his time in getting accustomed to what's expected of him. But make no mistake, when the opportunity to lead arises, he's taking full advantage.
"As time goes on, I'm going to need a voice. Coach is letting me get acclimated with everything and see how each player is. But that leadership role is going to be big," Woods said. " I'm vocal, I'm talking at all times. If a guy is having a tough time on the court or off it, they know they can always come to me. I've always been like that, no matter what team I'm on. I want to be somebody (his teammates) can confide in."
Woods is versatile, expecting to play both on and off the ball. Holtmann expects the same.
"I want him to stay aggressive and assertive," Holtmann said. "He has good feel, good vision. We could play him at a variety of positions. He could be one of our leading play-makers this year because of his ability to move the ball. His seasoning, compared to some of the young guys we have, he's just a more seasoned player."
One situation the Buckeyes will have to keep an eye on is Woods' health. He suffered an MCL sprain last season but says he's back to normal now.
"I played on it pretty much the whole time," Woods said. "I took some time off, depending on how I was feeling. It effected me a lot. But now, I'm pretty much back to my normal self."
Woods is set to see his first action with Ohio State on Nov. 7 in the team's season opener at Cincinnati. That contest begins a challenging non-conference stretch, one that includes a trip to Creighton and a home date with Syracuse. After initially beginning Big Ten action, the Buckeyes will take on UCLA in Chicago on Dec. 22.
"It's been a full summer and productive in a lot of ways. It was great to go (to Spain) with our guys. Great to spend time doing that," Holtmann said. "I've played at Cincinnati and at Creighton. Those two early tests are going to be challenging. We're really going to rely on our veteran guys. It's going to be a challenge."