Friday, July 5, 2013

Maury High's Woods thrilled with opportunity at Virginia Tech

How excited was Jermaine Woods to land an assistant coaching job at Virginia Tech. Well, let's just say after chatting him up about his new post the other day, we weren't sure if he'd actually driven to Blacksburg or just floated there upon getting the news.

"You can hear it in my voice, right?" said a laughing Woods, former Maury High School head coach who is being elevated to what figures to be the toughest women's basketball conference in Division I. "It's an unbelievable opportunity, and I'm going to make the most of it."

The addition of Woods to the Tech staff addresses the program's desire (necessity?) to finally gain a foothold on in-state recruiting. For while the Hokies have done a nice job of scouring the world for talent under third-year head coach Dennis Wolff, they have struggled to plant their recruiting flag right here in the Commonwealth.

"Hiring me is a big step in that," Woods said.

Indeed, Woods has packed a ton of in-state hoops experience into his 31 years. He starred as a player for Norfolk's Granby High School and Christopher Newport University, then served as an assistant coach for a state championship boys team at Booker T. Washington High. In his three seasons as the head coach of the Maury girls program, Woods guided the Commodores to a 61-18 record while helping to develop some of the most coveted young talent around.

Woods also comes with an extensive AAU background, as he spent four years coaching Boo Williams' 17-and-under boys "B" AAU. In addition, he has guided players one-on-one individually through his private business, "Gettin Better Basketball."

Virginia Tech apparently wasn't the only school that recognized this guy was on the fast track to a college position. Woods said he was in discussions with two Colonial Athletic Association men's programs when the Hokies came calling.

"I'm not just saying this because he hired me, but Coach Wolff is a great guy, a family guy who treats his staff well," Woods said. "He's got things moving in the right direction with the stuff he's doing to restore the tradition at Virginia Tech, and I want to be a part of that. Plus my wife likes the area, and you know that's an important factor. So really, it was a no-brainer."

Although he just started Monday, Woods' hiring may have already paid dividends. In late June, Maury High's Chanette Hicks, a talented rising junior guard who in May participated in the USA Basketball U16 National team trials, verbally committed to be part of Tech's Class of 2015.

Still, Williams scoffs at the idea that Tech would add Woods solely to mine talent from his old school.

"They're not crazy," Williams said. "Getting Chanette may have helped, but that's not why they hired him. He's young, very enthusiastic and really gets after it. He had good relationships with players, good relationships with coaches. It's a good hire, for a lot of reasons."

Of course, the step from the Virginia High School League to the Atlantic Coast Conference is a considerable one. Fortunately, no one recognizes this more that Woods himself.

"I accept the fact that I've got a whole lot to learn," said Woods, who will undertake his first recruiting road trip this weekend. "So I'm listening, taking notes, asking questions.... But everyone here has been great, helping me with anything I need. It's like going to college and having a tutor for every class. But that's just what I want, because I plan on being great at this."

Woods fills the position vacated when former Hokies assistant Billi Godsey landed the head job at Iona.

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