Despite the balanced nature of N.C. State's offense—all five starters averaged in double figures in 2011--12—there is one player who is encouraged to shoot more than the others. For Scott Wood, coach Mark Gottfried says, "the light cannot be greener. Every shade of green in the color palette, he gets."
The senior small forward from Marion (Ind.) High earned this go-ahead hue by making 41.3% of his threes (167 of 404) over the past two seasons. While ACC preseason player of the year C.J. Leslie and rising-star point guard Lorenzo Brown are the biggest reasons the Wolfpack is in the early national-title conversation, Wood is a hyperefficient auxiliary gunner who could play a defense-stretching role similar to the one Lee Humphrey had on Florida's championship teams in 2006 and '07.
Because an overwhelming amount of Wood's offense has come on catch-and-shoots (83.6% of his possessions last season, according to Synergy Sports Technology) and because he typically gets hounded by no-help defenders—"They stick to Scott like Velcro," Gottfried says—his summer workouts were designed to make him less predictable. Wood tried to develop a better pump fake, as well as a rip or "circle" move, to help him create more one-dribble pull-ups or drives that generate trips to the free throw line, where he shot 90.7% as a junior.
"I'm always going to be a three-point shooter," says the 6'6" Wood, who took 232 of his 310 shots last season from beyond the arc and has the second-most made threes of any active player in the conference. "I just want someone who's closing out on me at full speed to know, in the back of their mind, that they've also seen Scott Wood shoot a one-dribble pull-up."
If so, the defender might flinch, giving Wood space to rise and fire. When his feet are set and he gets a clean look at the rim, the result is positively predictable.
ROUND OF 32
ROUND OF 64
Projected Starting Five
COACH Mark Gottfried (2nd season)
2011--12 RECORD 24--13 ACC 9--7 (T-4th)
WHAT'S BACK Minutes: 62.5% Points: 81.6% Rebounds: 92.9%
*High school stats
1.8 STEALS per game for point guard Lorenzo Brown last season, making him the first Wolfpack player since Chris Corchiani in 1989--90 to lead the conference in that category.
SCOTT CUNNINGHAM/GETTY IMAGES
SCOTT WOOD The master of the catch-and-shoot has added a pump fake and a rip move to set up his one-dribble pull-ups.