There has been a familiar face at the Palestra this Penn men’s basketball season, and his name is Antonio Woods.
Woods, a Cincinnati, Ohio native, was a four-year contributor for Penn men’s basketball. From the first time he stepped onto the court for Penn, he made his presence felt. As a freshman, the guard appeared in all 28 games for the Quakers and led the team in assists. Although he started the year as an impact player that specialized in basketball’s “sixth man” role, Woods was a consistent starter by the season’s end.
After a leave of absence that started the second half of his sophomore season, Woods started every game for the Quakers over his final two years. Over that time, he continued to be both a passing and scoring threat for a Penn team that experienced several successful seasons during Woods’ career.
Although his career with the Quakers ended last spring, Woods has not given up his pursuit of basketball as a career. Since playing his final game for the Red and Blue, Woods has stayed at Penn to both finish his undergraduate degree and hone his basketball skills.
“I have a semester left of school, so [I’ve been] finishing that up. I’m also making sure that I’m still in shape and [that] I’m ready to take that step onto the next level,” Woods said.
Many young basketball players dream of playing professional basketball and making a living playing the game they love. However, while some end up abandoning those dreams after their college careers, Woods has stayed focused on his passion.
“[I’m] trying to go overseas and continue pursuing my dreams,” Woods said. “My dream as a kid was always to play professionally on any level. Getting paid to play the game I love: you can’t beat that.”
Although Penn plays a competitive schedule full of talented Ivy teams, competitive non-conference opponents, and historic Big 5 programs, playing overseas provides a unique challenge to a player like Woods. Overseas professional basketball often plays a different style of the sport than college basketball programs tend to employ. As a result, players often struggle to make the transition to the unique type of play.
However, for Woods, his college basketball experience may actually help him as he looks to prepare for the transition. At the same time, Woods has decided to focus his preparation on his physical condition rather than trying to adapt to the overseas system preemptively.
“Coach Donahue’s system has helped me transition since it [requires] a lot of movement from players,” Woods said. “I also know the game is going to come over time [as I] get accustomed to the way they play and the speed of the game.”
Woods’ decision to play overseas does not just change the way he is approaching the game of basketball. Instead, with it being likely that the former Penn standout finds himself living across the globe, Woods must also prepare to live an entirely different lifestyle. Luckily for him, however, Woods has already had exposure to life on the other side of the world.
“Our team trip to Italy really helped me get a visualization of [life] over there,” Woods said. “I’m into culture, and I’m open to exploring new cultures.”
For the past few months, everything \Woods has done has been to get ready for this next step in his basketball career. While he has enjoyed training at his former home court and watching his former teammates play every weekend, Woods is eager to get back to the game he loves.
“I’m ready to get back on the court in a game setting,” Woods said. “I do open runs and open gyms, but that’s still not the same. I am very, very eager to get back on the court in a game setting with referees, jerseys, and announcing.”