When Wake Forest forward Tony Woods pled guilty to misdemeanor assault for an incident with his girlfriend -- in which his girlfriend broke her spine, which is pretty crazy -- it was fair to assume it would be a while, if ever, until Woods played college basketball again. After all, he broke his girlfriend's spine. If Woods left Wake (which, it turns out, he did) would another college hoops coach really want to deal with the mess? Is Woods' talent really worth it?
Apparently, plenty of college coaches think so. Woods has "literally gotten 30 calls," according to his former AAU coach, Norman Parker. Among the teams interested: Kentucky, West Virginia, Georgetown, Auburn, Xavier, Cincinnati and, last but not least, Louisville, where the forward is going to make a visit today:
“He's looking for a good school, a good coach that can help him continue to develop and a good situation,” Parker said. “He has great grades and is a good kid. He's just a kid that made a mistake. We're looking for a place to give him a second chance.”
There are a couple of different ways to look at this. One is to take Parker at his word -- that Woods is a good kid who simply made a really bad mistake, that he deserves as much of a chance to continue his career as anyone. The other is to lash back at the notion of Woods simply waltzing into a program like the incident with his girlfriend never happened. Louisville fans, for their part, seem more than skeptical of the entire idea. I can't say I'd feel any differently; the coach that ends up signing Woods is bound to face a brief barrage of bad press and bad vibes from the local fans. Throw in Woods' inability to play before December of 2011 (he has to enroll this coming spring and wouldn't be eligible before December 2011) and it seems a bit more risk than it's worth.
Whoever decides to take Woods needs to make a successful sales pitch. He needs to play the "I'm just trying to give a player a chance to rehabilitate himself; I'm actually being altruistic" card, and he needs to play it early. Either way, it still won't look very good.