Photo courtesy of MSU Athletics
We’ve finally made it to Draft Day, and for Mississippi State’s Robert Woodard, II, tonight’s a chance to fulfill a lifelong dream.
“This has been a dream come true for me to have it finally be a week away,” Woodard said. “It’s something I’ve definitely been working on for a long time, so I’m definitely happy that it’s finally happening.”
The Columbus High School product spent three years with the Bulldogs, starting 64 total games, and from what his agent, Kieran Piller, is telling him, Woodard expects to be a late first or early second-round draft pick.
“He’s been telling me, since day one, that he sees me going in the 20-40 range,” he said. “I honestly feel like it might improve, considering after the combine, the numbers and things of that nature. We’ll just have to see.”
During this year’s NBA Combine, which was conducted virtually, Woodard barely missed out on finding himself in the bSPARQ Hall of Fame (95th percentile or higher) as he scored a 94.8% on the standardized test that measures draftee’s overall athleticism.
On Tuesday morning, Gary Parrish of CBS Sports released his most recent mock draft with Michael Jordan’s Charlotte Hornets projected to take Woodard with the 32nd overall pick.
Regarding the unusually long period between the end of the college basketball season and the draft, Woodard explained that while it’s been mentally taxing, he has used the extra time to improve his game.
“You’re training all this time just for the date to get pushed back,” he said. “It was definitely a challenge having to stay mentally focused, self-disciplined, and those type deals. I will say that I enjoyed the whole process and being able to work out for seven to eight months has definitely made me a better player than when I left Mississippi State.”
When asked what current NBA player would be a good comparison for the 6’7” power forward, who averaged 11.7 points and 6.5 rebounds per game during the slightly shortened 2019-2020 season, Woodard said that he sees himself entering the league as a Wesley Matthews-type of player, however, he hopes to mature into a Kawhi Leonard-type.
“Starting off, I would like to compare to Wesley Matthews, somebody who gets it done on both ends [and] improves his three-point percentage and things like that,” Woodard explained. “Hopefully, in three or four years down the line, I can possibly try and be more like a Kawhi Leonard-type of role, as far as offensively and defensively.”
Whether or not his career will pan out like he envisions, Woodard is simply grateful for the opportunity to live out his lifelong dream of playing at the world’s highest level.
“Everybody doesn’t have a chance to hear their name called, so I just see it as a blessing.”
To see what team Woodard lands on, tune in to the NBA Draft on Wednesday, November 18, at 6 p.m. CST.