New level of competition. New Team. New lifestyle. On and off the court there were several adjustments awaiting Kraidon Woods. Thus, the true freshman didn’t waste any time after he graduated high school, and arrived in Tempe nearly a week before summer school started. They are no regrets on Woods’ part, just a deep understanding that his role on ASU’s basketball team will be vital.
Kraidon Woods who hails from Swiftwater, Penn., noticed immediately upon arrival in Tempe how different his new surroundings would be from his old stomping grounds. “The West Coast life style is way different than what I’m used to,” he said. “Everything is much slower pace here. Everything is relaxed and noting like the hustle and bustle of the East Coast. That has been the biggest adjustment for me off the court. Back home you’re always on your guard, and over here you don’t have to be. This is a real easy- going, comforting place.”
On the court, just like any other true freshman, Woods realized very quickly that all the advantages he had over fellow high school players, become non-existent in the college game. “In high school you’re killing people, and when I do drill out here the drills are killing me,” he stated. “Everyone is just as fast and just as talented as you are. Everything is on a higher level than high school, and it’s all about determination and now dedicated you are to work on your game.”
“I wanted to really be ready for the season, so I knew the earlier I come here and work out with the team the better it would be for me. I’m just trying to get better everyday and improve on all my skills. All those extra hours you spend in the gym will work out for you.”
The forward was one of Pocono Mountain East High’s best players the last few years. As a sophomore he led the team to Mountain Valley Conference title and 24-3 mark. His recruitment heated up considerably as a junior, where he averaged 15 points, 12 rebounds and 7 blocks a game. It was during that season when he committed to the hometown school Villanova.
About a year and half after his recruitment, in October of last year, Woods decided to re-open his recruitment. He never went on record dishing out specifics about that decision. It is however believed that a log-jam of Wildcat players in his position, caused him to rethink his original pledge.
A couple of weeks after that announcement he visited the Sun Devils, and less than 72 hours after coming back from that trip he committed to the maroon and gold. Virginia Tech. Florida, St. John’s, and Temple were other schools he was considering at the time.
The forward had a calf injury during his senior season. He was averaging 16 points a contest up to that point. Many schools were courting Woods, and NC State, then coached by ASU Head Coach Herb Sendek, was also among the list of suitors. Woods attended Hill Prep School in Pottstown, Penn. When he de-committed. His coach there Seth Eilberg recommended to his player that he put Arizona State on his short list, and the rest as they say is history.
“It was kinda rough,” said Woods about his de-commitment. “It was exciting when I committed to them, because it was great that I was gonna play in my back yard and have my parents come to every game. When I told them that I’m gonna go across the country to play basketball and they won’t see me play a lot, they were still very supportive. As long as I have their strength I’m able to continue… I wasn’t big on being close to home, so coming to Arizona State was an easy decision for me.”
Woods mentioned that his friends weren’t too disappointed about his decision to play three time zones away. “They just wanted to make sure that I hook up with tickets if they come out here to visit me. For them it didn’t matter where I was gonna play, as long as I got them their seats (laughs).”
He may have been the first 2007 signee to show up on campus in the summer, but it was quite apparent to the forward his team would be defined by many young and new faces. Woods referred back to the so-called West Coast attitude as a catalyst to the quick forming team chemistry.
“Guys just came here and open their arms to each other because we all have a common goal,” he explained. “Coaches and players are real dedicated to win. They’re gonna turn it around and really make something happen here.”
Woods witnessed the solid leadership on the team coming from upperclassmen Antwi Atuahene and Jeff Pendergraph. “They got us all motivated when we were tired. ‘Twi is a real funny guy and made all the newcomers feel at home,” said Woods. “But he also has that fiery leadership too. I got some cousins from Canada so I understand how ‘Twi goes (smile)…both of them are great leaders.”
The forward put on 15 pounds since his arrival in Tempe. He is getting more and more ready for a style of play change from wing player to an inside presence backing up Pendergraph and Eric Boateng. Then again, the flexibility of Coach Herb Sendek’s style will make that transition easy. “In the offense you don’t always find yourself pinned the post,” he commented. “I just need to suck it all in and play hard. I may not out muscle some guys down there, but I’m gonna try. You have to help the team any way you can.”
Unlike three of his fellow true freshmen, Woods won’t start in the team’s season opener. Yet, that doesn’t mean that he’s setting low expectations for himself. “My parents always told me to shoot for the stars, because if you fall short you’ll at least fall to a realistic goal,” he said. “If you’re complacent in set your goals low, and then you don’t make it – then where are you at then? You have always have to shoot for the stars, because if you fall short you’re still gonna be higher than a lot of people.”
Hill Prep School
Date of Birth
Queens, New York
Favorite TV Show
“Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood.”
Favorite Pro Team
“New York Knicks”
Person you most admire
“My parents. They work so hard and they are my inspiration. Every time I come out on the floor they’re on my mind.”
First Basketball Memory
“I grew up in Queens and I remember just playing for the first time at a Rec Center there just hitting shots from everywhere. I was like seven the first time I played organized basketball.”
One Thing most people don’t know about me
“I like video games”
Why did you choose ASU?
“They’re gonna do something special here and they’re real hungry.”
Where do you want to be in ten years?
“Definitely in the league. If that doesn’t work out, hopefully retired on the beach.”