South Carolina senior guard Seventh Woods is on the mend from a late-season groin injury, but head coach Frank Martin said Wednesday night that Woods’ return to the team remains uncertain.
Talking with SportsTalk Media Network, Martin said he met with Woods on April 23 to discuss his future with the Gamecocks, and the pair agreed to meet again later this month.
Woods, a senior transfer from North Carolina, played his first season for the Gamecocks in 2020-21 after sitting out the previous season because of NCAA transfer rules. Emerging as the starting point guard after the team’s extended COVID-19 shutdown, Woods started 13 games for the Gamecocks, averaging 5.4 points per game.
Woods caught fire during a four-game stretch early in SEC play, scoring double-digit points in each game, including a season-high 12 points in a road upset of Florida. But injuries to his knee and groin, respectively, bookended his season.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NCAA passed a rule allowing players an extra year of eligibility, a decision that Woods is mulling.
“He’s actually as healthy as he’s been,” Martin told SportsTalk on Wednesday. “He’s still not doing anything on the court. He and I visited ... and we agreed that we’ll visit here sometime in the middle of May and figure out. There’s no rush with him. He’s getting his degree.”
Because of the extra year of eligibility, Woods won’t count toward the 13-player scholarship limit should he decide to play, Martin said, meaning the team could carry up to 14 players next season. Martin has said he expects veterans Keyshawn Bryant and Jermaine Couisnard to return to the team after testing the NBA Draft process, and the coach reiterated that point on Wednesday. With A.J. Lawson declaring for the NBA Draft and signing with an agent, Woods remains the lone unknown.
A Columbia native and a local star at the Hammond School, Woods has had a topsy-turvy journey during his brief stint with his hometown Gamecocks. Last summer, Woods overexerted himself in the team’s very first weightlifting session and wound up in the hospital for days with a case of rhabdomyolysis, a condition that can cause severe kidney damage or even death if not treated quickly.
“That was probably the toughest thing I’ve dealt with in my life,” Woods said in the fall.
Woods tweaked his knee in just the second game of the season, on the road at Tulsa, limiting his minutes early in the year. In the team’s final game of the regular season at Kentucky, Woods tore his grown in the first half.
“That injury was really severe,” Martin said after the season. “Like, his groin tear, it actually detached from the bone. So he’s trying to get himself healthy before making the decision. Obviously, he’s been in college for five years. He’d much rather try to pursue a professional career, but he’s not in a place to make that decision.
“And with that extra year for seniors not counting against your 13 scholarships, there’s no rush to make that decision.”