Juco Phenom Qyntel Woods
From Booneville To the Lottery?
Sitting in a crowded gym at Carver High in Memphis five years ago, Vensia Woods had one concern as she prepared to watch her son Qyntel play his first varsity basketball game: Don't let my baby get hurt. That fear had kept her from watching Qyntel play quarterback at Carver, and he had to reassure her that basketball was far less dangerous. But once the game started, Vensia's worries vanished. "I thought to myself, Lord, what have you sent me?" Vensia remembers. "It was like a masterpiece had been unveiled."
Vensia Woods isn't alone in being mesmerized by Qyntel (kwin-TELL). Now 21, he's a 6'9" guard in the Tracy McGrady mold out of Northeast Mississippi Community College in Booneville, a potential lottery pick who announced last Saturday that he'll enter the draft—despite the warnings of University of Memphis coach John Calipari, who had signed Woods for next year.
Calipari has told Woods that teams with mid-to late first-round picks are trying to make him believe he's a top selection in the hope that he'll turn pro and fall to them. Woods feels that once teams assess his quickness, body control, three-point touch and midrange game, he'll go high enough. "I read that the top pick would be me or [Duke's] Jason Williams," says Woods, who averaged 32.9 points and 9.8 rebounds last season. "I don't buy into that—he's proven himself at the Division I level—but I do see myself in the top five."
"There aren't many players who have his size and length and are able to handle the ball," says one NBA executive. "I can't think of enough guys with his upside who will be able to knock him out of the lottery"
Now living at home after withdrawing from school, Woods admits that the current hype makes him uncomfortable. He didn't even want to play basketball at Carver because he thought coach Stevenson Bratcher would be too hard on him. When Woods grew from 6 feet to 6'5" before his junior year, he finally gave in to the pleas of his best friend and joined the team. Prodded by Bratcher, Woods developed perimeter skills, though he played mostly inside.
Woods has shown toughness in his brief career. After tearing his left ACL in the second football game of his senior year, he skipped surgery, played basketball that season wearing a brace and scored 35 points in the state AA final to lead the Cobras to the 1999 tide. He had surgery on his knee the following fall at Moberly (Mo.) Area Community College, and while redshirting, he dribbled a basketball everywhere he went to refine his ball handling. The next season he averaged 23-4 points and 8.3 rebounds before academic struggles and a desire to be closer to home led him to transfer to Northeast Mississippi.
Vensia handles all the questions from scouts who've flocked to Qyntel's games, as well as the constant phone calls from agents. It's a chaotic time for the Woodses, but they're not complaining. Qyntel's father was murdered seven weeks after he was born; growing up in South Memphis, Qyntel resisted the constant opportunity to use or peddle drugs. Now he has an opportunity of a different sort. As Vensia says, "It's time for Qyntel to cash in on his blessings."
Denver's Antonio McDyess
Disenfranchised Franchise Player
As a result of their salary-clearing megatrade with the Mavericks, the Nuggets may have at least $30 million in cap room in the summer of 2003. They would like power forward Antonio McDyess to help them spend the money by recruiting elite free agents. But McDyess may not be the right man for the job because he isn't sure he wants to stay in Denver.