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2016-17 Missouri Hoops Postseason Player Analysis: Russell Woods

The former JUCO forward was a pleasant surprise in parts of 2016-17.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Tournament-Auburn vs Missouri Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

Coming into the season, we didn’t expect a ton from Russell Woods. From our Post Previews:

If somehow Mizzou can get productive minutes from Russell Woods, something that did not happen through the bulk of SEC play last season, they’ll be in a much better spot. Woods doesn’t have to be flashy, he just needs to score with reasonable chances, rebound hard, defend, and not foul a bunch. I don’t mean to demean Woods role, but at this stage, the middle of the floor is an obvious weakness on this team. The better Woods plays, the less of a weakness the role becomes.

While Woods maybe faded a bit down the stretch, he was precisely what Missouri needed him to be through the bulk of the schedule. He wasn’t flashy, he didn’t produce big numbers, but what he did do was provide consistency in his role.

#25 Russell Woods

6'8" 235 lbs

2016-17 32 22.2 6.7 4.3 0.4 .483 .588 .000
2015-16 29 13.4 2.8 2.7 0.3 .524 .389 .000

After last year, the thought was that if Mizzou’s freshmen bigs were stealing minutes from Woods, the ceiling for the Tigers was probably going to be a bit higher. But nobody stole minutes from Woods this year — he was the leader in minutes at the center position by quite a bit.

There were times when the team went with a smaller lineup and inserted Kevin Puryear at the center position, but the offense usually had a better flow when Woods was in the game. He increased his usage by about 5%, and his FG% went down, but Woods was still a productive player who did what Mizzou needed.

Ultimately, he was limited by his inexperience and overall lack of elite athleticism. His effort was always good, but going against guys like Bam Adebayo, Robert Williams and John Egbunu is simply going to put Woods at a deficit. He handled himself well, and even outplayed other centers at times.

Woods came to Mizzou at a time when the program was on a downturn. He wasn’t around to see a host of wins — ultimately the Tigers won just 18 games in two years with Woods in the program. What he did do was show up, work hard, and try to be the best player he could. For that, we thank him.

Good luck at wherever you end up, Russell. Thanks for your efforts while suiting up in the Black and Gold.

NCAA Basketball: SEC Tournament-Auburn vs Missouri Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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Chris Bohkay

In Kim Anderson’s three years at Mizzou there was a lot of things that he did not get right, but one thing he was able to do was to make the big men that had at least a year with him better. He made Ryan Rosburg look strong for half a season, and the jump that Woods made from year one at Mizzou to year two was noticeable. His limitations however were clear, he had trouble staying out of foul trouble against the bigger and faster teams on the SEC schedule, and when he wasn’t in foul trouble he seemed to have a hard time contributing on the stat sheet. Woods to me feels like an example of a player that Kim Anderson wanted to be in the system he wanted to run, just that the pieces around him didn’t fit that system. Which led to the sometimes off kilter feel this team had all last season. To Russell Woods, I would say thanks for the time, for not doing anything to embarrass the University and I hope you had some fun.

Bill C.

Woods was a prototypical hustle guy. He ranked in the nation's top 400 in two categories: offensive rebound rate and fouls drawn per 40 minutes. He was the type of player you can absolutely use but don't necessarily want to need. And when Mizzou found itself leaning on him too much, we pretty clearly got a glimpse at his ceiling.

Still, he had his moments. He scored 25 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in wins over Miami (Ohio) and WKU in december, and after his brutal 3-for-9 performance from the line against Ole Miss, he responded with an 18-point, eight-rebound game against South Carolina.

It's a shame his career ended the way it did, with just a 3-point, 4-foul average over his final eight games. But he definitively improved and created some solid moments.

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Texas A&M Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports