It’s not been a straightforward path for Seventh Woods. From Hoop Mixtape legend through a tough college career, basketball has presented its challenges to him. Now, in his first season as a pro, he’s seeking a championship in the Irish cup with Blue Demons
The name alone resonates: Seventh Woods. Once you hear something that baller, it just sticks in your mind. In theory, given its origin being the day God rested, it should make him a relaxed individual. Woods however has been given plenty of reasons to be aggravated by basketball over the last 10 years.
Now, in Cork, he’s found a new lease of life. It’s one he’s hoping will turn into achieving his long-term basketball goals over the next few years. Right now, he’s just focused on Saturday.
There was once a dream that was Rome
It was 18 April 2013, Seventh Woods was still a few months shy of his 15th birthday, and his life changed forever. That was the day one of the most famous, and still most revered, basketball mixtapes ever dropped. The original upload by Hoopmixtape of his 14 year old freshman season has cleared 16 million views. There are others that have cleared 1 million and more with hundreds of thousands of views.
Most of us know the Cliff Notes of what followed. He was a name in basketball overnight. After high school, as a four star and being named Mr Basketball South Carolina, he went to North Carolina. Woods won a national championship his freshman season. Three years in though and he wasn’t getting much action.
Then came a year with the South Carolina Gamecocks and another with the Morgan State Bears. In the spring of 2022, the Seventh Woods story looked over. He was a footnote, a warning to prospects everywhere of how fragile the opportunity before them is.
One determined woman
Ireland is not exactly a premier destination for players looking to make a career in basketball. It’s a good place to live but the league is semi-professional, a mixture of mostly amateurs and a couple of full-timers on each side. It’s not where players who go on to greatness expect to collect their first cheque.
There have been exceptions, the most notable being Mario Elie. It was not where Seventh Woods expected to land, especially after spending his first year after college recovering from a back issue.
“I had back surgery after my last college season. I didn’t have much opportunity. This was pretty much the only option I had. Our head coach’s wife is a huge Tar Heels fan. Once I became available, she pretty much made him [Daniel O’Mahoney] come get me so thanks to Jodie Black for that one,” Woods told BallinEurope.
Jodie’s surname is well-known in Irish basketball. The Black family has deep roots across the sport here. Having a Tar Heel superfan in his corner was enough for Woods to take the shot at using Ireland as a launchpad.
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The Renaissance man
It took until a couple of weeks ago for me to see Woods play in person. It was the semi-final of the Irish Cup, the Cork derby between Blue Demons and Neptune. The first half was all too concerning for those hoping Woods had turned a corner.
Had it stayed that way, then this wouldn’t have been the headline afterward. Woods took over in the second half, showing the aggression and potential the world had been waiting on.
“It was a huge game. First half, I didn’t hit too many shots. A lot of people talked to me about the second half. Honestly, I didn’t even realise it was that much different until I went back and watched it. I just had to do whatever I needed to do to get that win,” Woods said.
A shot at glory
Woods is unquestionably the leader on the floor for this Blue Demons side. He was one really big piece of help on the inside in Elijah Tillman and there’s other talent too. Make no mistake, his team will be underdogs on Saturday.
They face a Ballincollig side that won its maiden Irish Super League championship last spring and looks to have only gotten better. They have far more options offensively and a lot more depth defensively than Blue Demons. In short, they are just plain better.
That will surely suit Seventh Woods in his role of protagonist. Like Woods, Demons fell from a great height in the sport and are building their way back. Like Woods, the odds are against them. The pressure will be elsewhere, the opportunity is there for Woods and Blue Demons to prove the doubters wrong.
The next step
To me at least, having almost always lived here, Ireland is a great place. The people are nice, the food is a lot better than when I was a kid, and we know how to party. All the same, it’s not where a player aiming to make it to the top of basketball wants to be for too long.
Woods is well aware of that. He’s just happy that playing in Ireland with Blue Demons has given him that important first step back in basketball.
“It’s about rediscovering it. Everyone warned me that I’d need to be more aggressive. It took some getting used to. Some of the shots that I have now would have been snatched away in college. It took some getting used to.” he said.
“I’ve not had too many discussions on what’s next for me. I’m just focused on the tasks I have for this season, getting healthy and going from there. I want to go out on Saturday night and show that I can compete at the highest level. I want to prove myself and prove everybody else wrong.”
This Saturday night, Seventh Woods gets a shot at shutting the doubters up and reminding everyone of just who he is.