When NC State garnered a commitment from Marion (Ind.) High standout Scott Wood, the thinking was that he'd take some time to adjust defensively, but his trusty jump shot would stretch defenses right away for the Wolfpack.
The first two months of this season have been a whirlwind for the 6-foot-7, 170-pound starting small forward. Wood has been making a name for himself on the defensive end, while trying to work out the rhythm with his jump shot.
Wood is averaging 6.0 points, 3.1 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game through eight contests for the Wolfpack. What has been a surprise is that Wood is shooting just 22.9 percent (8 of 35) from three-point land, and was 1 of 13 during a three-game stretch prior to the Elon game on Thursday. Conversely, he is 9 of 12 on two-point field goal attempts through eight games.
"Scott is playing OK," Wolfpack coach Sidney Lowe said. "He's not shooting the ball the way he would like to. He understands what we are doing. He's good on the defensive end. He's an excellent team defender. Passing the ball, execution. Once his shooting comes around, then I think you are going to start to see how effective he can be for our team."
Wood has found other ways to help the team win. He picked up five steals in the 77-73 win at Marquette on Dec. 5, where he had friends and family in attendance in Milwaukee. Lowe also was proud of his defense against Georgia Southern long-range shooter Antonio Hanson, limiting him to 3 of 9 for nine points in the 75-57 win at Reynolds Coliseum on Saturday.
"No, no [I'm not worried], not at all," Lowe said. "Not with the defensive job he did on Hanson. If he can defend people like that, key players on the other team, and we prevent that guy from going off, then we'll be OK. He'll come around and make some shots. Right now, he is getting the task of guarding some tough guys."
Lowe has tried to help Wood figure out what is happening with his jumper, whether it's suggesting he get new contacts or getting extra time to shoot at the RBC Center to adjust to the different background compared to a high school gym.
"In fact we talked about that, and I was praying that wasn't the case [struggling in arenas]," Lowe said. "I was talking with the coaches and I just said, 'I hope this is not something that he's always had a problem, shooting in an arena like this, an open arena.' But yeah, guys do have that, but there's an adjustment for him, and I think the more we can get over there and practice, that's going to help as well."
Wood flashed his shooting prowess by making his first four three-pointers against St. Paul's College in the exhibition game Nov. 2. He also went 2 of 3 from three-point range against Akron Nov. 20.
Lowe knows that shooters just need to get on a roll, and expects Wood to fall in line with that train of thought.
"I think he needs to hit a couple," Lowe said. "He needs to knock a couple down and get that confidence back. I think that will do that for him. He has never lacked confidence. That is one thing, even in high school, he has never lacked confidence. He has always thought the next shot was going in. We are just trying to keep him there, and not let him get down on himself. We want him to look for the shot."