Basketball Elite prides itself in following and scouting all levels of basketball, not just HS or college basketball. We have been fortunate enough to be able to scout overseas combine events, NBA games, and NBA Summer Leagues in the past.
Giovonne (Gio) Woods was a player that James Blackburn first scouted 3 years ago in Raleigh, NC at the Overseas
Basketball Camp (www.overseasbasketballcamp.com). Gio was fresh out of college after a terrific career at Central Washington University and was looking to pave a way for himself playing professionally overseas. After playing a year in Spain, the 6’3” guard was back in the gym working out and ready for his next opportunity where ever that may be.
Gio attended the Overseas Basketball Camp again this July, which was held in Las Vegas and then went to the Courtside Camp in Vegas later the same week. He performed well at both events, which have yielded results. He signed with the Courtside agency and just landed a job in Austria, playing for the ECE Kapfenberg Bulls basketball club. ECE competes in the top division in Austria which is called the Austria-A Bundesliga.
“I look forward to meeting my new team in a different country”, says Woods. “It’s a new start and a blessing after being off for a year. I am looking forward to getting out there and competing and helping my team. I appreciate Basketball Elite keeping up with me and following me”.
We enjoy watching and following the careers of players and Gio has been one of our favorites. Seeing him go from college to playing professionally and now playing again after being off for a year is a testament to his dedication to the game and work ethic. We wish him well and will continue to track and document his career as it unfolds.
1. What has your experience been like playing in Spain this season, being that this is your rookie year playing professional basketball?
My experience playing here in Spain my first year has been a blessing. It has been a great learning experience. As a team we had a lot of expectations to win and play as a solid unit. I think I did well and learned quite a bit about the European style of play.
2. You are a versatile player who can impact the game without scoring, what part of your game do you feel is the strongest?
As a player I have always been taught not to be one-dimensional, to be an all-around player and able to do other things that will benefit the team to help get the win. I think rebounding is my strongest part of my game other than scoring. When I rebound, I can not only start the fast break but also look to create for myself or get my teammates an open shot and also to put pressure on the defense. Having the speed and quickness to get up and down the floor with the ball helps put my teammates and myself in a better position to score and easy basket.
3. What are your plans for this summer, now that you have all ready played a year of professional basketball overseas and what are some of your goals in the future as a player?
My plans for this summer are to rest for a couple of weeks with my family and then get to work. I really need to focus on my shooting and ball handling more this summer. I may head to Florida to train for a few weeks doing a lot of agility and strength on my lower body to build more explosion to help finish stronger at the rim. My goals for the future have not changed since I was young which is to play at the highest level I am capable of playing whether it be the NBA or the top premier leagues here overseas. I know that I have the ability and talent to do so but with a little more work and time, I know that those opportunities will present themselves at the right time.
4. What do you feel are some of the advantages for an America player to play internationally? What is the biggest difference in your mind between the game here and overseas?
Some advantages for American players overseas is there are a lot of leagues and countries to play in. With the minor leagues in the states not holding so much weight anymore, we can bring our talents abroad and put ourselves in better positions to move up and get seen by the NBA or the Development league. I think the team philosophy versus star power is the biggest difference. Not saying the NBA isn’t team oriented but most of the attributes come from the big names on the teams there.
5. What are your thoughts on the NBA lockout and the idea that some college players will try to go overseas to play?
With the NBA lockout happening, I think it will be a great opportunity for some of the college players to come overseas to get an experience that they may not ever have. For example, I think Brandon Jennings really benefited from playing overseas for a year. The players in Europe are very fundamental and have a great basketball I.Q and I think that by Jennings coming here it helped his contribution to the game and was more than just his athletic ability and speed.
6. You and Jamal Crawford from the Atlanta Hawks have a good relationship. When did you two meet and what are some of the things you have learned from him?
I met Jamal about 3 years ago in Seattle at his summer pro am league that he has every summer at Rainier Beach high school. I played against him one game and we had a great battle. Not being from the Seattle area I was a new face and I approached him after the game to get some advice on how to improve my game. He invited me to some open runs that were filled with NBA talent like himself Brandon Roy, Will Conroy, Nate Robinson, Terrance Williams and some Euroleague players as well. From there I began to do some side training with him and we have kept in contact ever since. One thing that I’ve learned from Jamal is timing. There’s always a time for everything, his time is now that he is really blossoming in the league and has finally made it to the playoffs in consecutive seasons and he expressed to me that my time will come where I have the chance to be where he is. But in the mean [time, I need] to stay humble and hungry to get better.
7. If you could tell US basketball fans one thing about playing overseas that they probably don’t know, what would it be?
It’s not easy…It’s not easy being away from family friends and the normal life. But if you want to be successful you have to make sacrifices. God blessed me to be in the position I am in today and I’m thankful everyday. God bless!
We’ve been continuing to follow the career of Gio Woods, as well as other players that we’ve scouted at various places, as they move their professional basketball careers overseas. The latest on Woods is that he is starting for Tenerife Baloncesto who competes in the EBA league in Spain.
On the video he is number 5 in white.
He is averaging 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assist a game.
In the game that is on the video he scored 20 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assist. His team is 19-5, 3 games up in first place, and they have 6 games left. His team will be moving up divisions next season to either LEB Silver or LEB Gold, which is the second division in Spain behind the highly talented ACB league.
Another note/update to include is that Jaycee Carroll is leading the ACB league with 18.1 PPG. James Blackburn scouted Carroll at the Orlando Summer League for Basketball Elite. James had said he is a player to watch – named him best undrafted player in the Summer league – Jaycee is out of Utah State.
The world of overseas basketball is largely unknown to Americans, but it continues to grow by leaps and bounds. Many US players find their way into careers as pro ball players by working exclusively with overseas teams. Gio Woods is a player who we first saw during a scouting session at an overseas evaluation camp, and he’s moved on to play for the team Tenerife Baloncesto in Spain, leading the team in scoring and rebounding extremely well, pushing his team to a 9-1 record and leading the conference.
The reality for US basketball players is that jobs playing basketball are hard to find and rarely last. Outside of the NBA, the money is hard to come by and teams are rarely stable. The NBA is trying to develop a farm system with the D-League, but they still haven’t figured out how to make it work, and the truth is that players can simply make more overseas, and have more opportunities.