Grinz On Green: Brandon Wood
Oct. 20, 2011
EAST LANSING, Mich. - Brandon Wood has absolutely no qualms about changing teams, coaches and teammates in his final year of college eligibility.
In fact, there may not be another player in the country better suited to start his Michigan State basketball career as a fifth-year senior than Wood, who played the last two seasons with Valparaiso.
"That's something I know that I will do, and that's what I look forward to - making an immediate impact for the team and helping out in all the ways I can," Wood said Tuesday at MSU's annual Media Day in the Breslin Center.
Wood's words are weighted with confidence for good reason. He's been through this before.
After graduating from Kokomo (Ind.) High School in 2007, he enrolled at Southern Illinois University and was off to a good start through the first six games with the Salukis basketball team. His freshman season was cut short by an injury, however, and he was granted a medical redshirt.
In 2008-09, Wood averaged 16.1 points per game, connected on 45 percent of his field goal attempts and had 51 steals for Highland Community College, in Freeport, Ill.
He was named Horizon League Newcomer of the Year the following year after averaging 17.7 points and 4.5 assist for coach Homer Drew at Valparaiso. He also scored 24 points in a 90-60 loss at No. 2 Michigan State.
Last season, Wood was a first-team All-Horizon League selection after averaging 16.7 points, good for third in the conference.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound shooting guard has started 64 of 71 college games, scored 1,139 career points, made 46.3 percent of his shots from the field and 36.6 percent from 3-point range.
Tom Izzo will be his fourth head coach at the collegiate level.
"I've experienced three different styles of coaches before coming here," Wood said. "I've experienced the hard-nosed coaches, the laid-back coaches, the upbeat coaches. Taking it back even further, I had a different head coach every year in high school, too.
"It could be looked at as a negative, but I take the positive out it. I've learned from so many different coaches that it made the transition (to MSU) easier."
Wood was able to transfer to MSU and play immediately thanks to an NCAA rule that allows a student-athlete who has earned a Bachelor's degree to enroll in postgraduate studies at another school. Wood is pursuing a Master's in advertising.
Izzo doesn't like the rule because he feels it could lead to big schools recruiting replacement players from smaller schools. That wasn't the case with Wood, who also considered Purdue, Tennessee and Indiana.
"This had no glitches to it," Izzo said. "Homer and I were on the same page from day one. I understood why, he understood why, it was simple and easy. But I worry about that down the road.
"I'm not overly fond of the rule, but it was (a matter of) get him if I could or play against him. He was leaving there one way or another, not for negative reasons, but just to fulfill what he thought were his dreams and goals. He's a better athlete (and) a little stronger than I thought."
Wood, who will turn 23 in January, said his experience and maturity have prepared him for this season.
"I feel like being a man now actually made the transition a lot easier," he said. "I watched Michigan State growing up and the players who've come through here. Being able to come here is just a blessing.
"I would have been fine at Valpo, and I wouldn't have minded staying there, but the type of person I am, I'm never satisfied and I always try to challenge myself. All the people I talked to told me this would be the best option, to come here and play against the best teams night in and night out and get a lot more exposure."
The biggest difference between MSU and the Horizon League competition is "the guys are bigger, stronger and faster," Wood said. "I feel like I'm up to par with it. It's not like I'm behind or anything."
If Wood could succeed against power-conference teams with a mid-major cast around him, he doesn't see any reason why he won't with the Spartans.
"I feel like my game fits in because the first thing we look to do as a team is fast break, and I feel like I'm a player who can score on the break, whether it's catching the ball and shooting from the wing or the corner, catching the ball and going to the rack, or catching the ball and creating something for my teammates," he said. "I thrive on running off screens and running through sets as well as motion, which is something we're putting in."
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