Robert Woodard II Strives For All-Around Success
In his first USA Basketball experience this past October at the 2014 USA Men’s Junior National Team mini-camp, 6-foot-5 Robert Woodard II was surrounded by the best high school boys basketball players from throughout the country.
“Being able to see the older guys play, and my (class) as well, seeing the variety of talent that came to this gym and just trying to contribute and see what I can do to get better, it really inspired me,” Woodard said. “It made me want to work harder and just work on my game more.”
He went on to his freshman year at Columbus High School in Mississippi and helped his team to a 22-7 record and the North Half semifinals.“We didn’t make it too far in the playoffs, but my team really clicked together, and towards the middle and end of the season, I really stepped up and played a leadership role for my high school team,” said Woodard, who averaged 15.3 points, 8.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals per game. “The leadership role, it came in middle school, eighth grade, and then I just tried to carry it on to the high school level.”
Now, Woodard is back in Colorado Springs, Colorado, vying for one of 12 roster spots on the 2015 USA Basketball Men’s U16 National Team, and on Saturday morning, he learned he was one of 17 finalists for the team from a pool of 32 players.
“I think the sessions are going great,” Woodard said. “I’m hustling and trying to get after it, outwork other people and separate myself.
“My motto for this weekend is, ‘refuse to be out-worked,’” he explained.
“That’s the only thing I want to think about. I don’t want to think about cuts, or making the cuts, I just want to refuse to be out-worked and let everything else take care of itself.”
As Robert Woodard II, the younger Robert not only carries his father’s namesake, he said he also aspires to match his father’s capacity for hard work.
“My father,” the 15-year-old Woodard said when asked who he looks up to, “because when he was in high school, everybody tells me about him, they used to call him the ‘horse’ because he had so much hustle and wouldn’t let anybody out-hustle him.
“I haven’t seen it on the court, but I’ve seen it. He’s a very hard-working man. I really want to pull up some tapes and see him from high school, just to see how he played. From what I’ve heard, he had crazy hustle.”
Robert Woodard senior played basketball at Mississippi State, but his son looks up to him for more than his basketball reputation.
“I love my father and the way he pushed me to do my best in everything that I do on and off the court. He’s just a big inspiration in my life to do my best in everything I do.”
There are a lot of things the younger Woodard does – in addition to being one of the best basketball players in the country.
He plays baseball and can be seen either at shortstop, first base, right field, center or pitcher for Columbus High School.
“I’ve played baseball since I was a little kid, and I just carried on with it. I like playing it to have something to do over the off-season as well as getting in the gym and working on my basketball game. It keeps my body active and keeps me going to stay physically in tune.
“I like shortstop – all the action.”
He also is a National Beta Society member and two-time recipient of his school principal’s Student of the Year award.
“(National Beta Society) is for people who make all As and Bs.” Woodard explained. “It’s basically a club where you get can get community service hours for your resume, help out your community and try to lead others into doing better things.”
As the hobbies stack up, for Woodard, who says he would like to be an orthodontist or orthopedic surgeon, it begs the question of how Woodard balances it all. He has a simple explanation.
“I go to school, I do basketball and then right after basketball I do my schoolwork, because I don’t like to procrastinate and wait until later, because I need my rest.
“School is the second thing in order of importance. God comes first. School is definitely important in my life, and I really like to do the best that I can in school, because I don’t really want to depend on basketball for everything. I want to be able to get an academic scholarship as well as a basketball scholarship. I just really like to do my best in everything.”
There are occasions when he has time to enjoy other hobbies, more relaxing hobbies according to Woodard, such as riding his horse, John Rico Black Moon, or perhaps hunting deer or dove with his father, something he has been doing since he was very young.
“They are just very relaxing things to outside of basketball. That keeps me stable and calm, something else to do that is not just hard work all the time. It’s just very relaxing.”
Perhaps later this summer Woodard will get time to ride or hunt, but for now, he is focused on making the 12-member USA Men’s U16 National Team that will compete June 10-14 in the FIBA Americas U16 Championship in Bahia Blanca, Argentina.
“It would be exciting, but it would be a business trip for me,” Woodard said of what would be his first trip outside of the United States. “Off the court, it would be fun and games, but when it’s time to play, things get very serious.”
Whether Woodard will travel to Argentina remains to be seen, but there is no doubt that regardless of the outcome over that next few days that he is looking forward at a bright future as a top basketball prospect and a serious student.
“It would be a very great honor to make this team, because I would be representing my country, playing the sport I love, which is basketball,” Woodard said. “Playing for the USA and even just to get invited here was a very great honor."