Euroleague Forward of the Year Qyntel Woods has the NBA talking again.
by Brendan Bowers / @StepienRules
Before Phil Jackson started tripping over Mark Twain quotes, he once said that if you “approach the game of basketball with no preset agendas, you’ll probably come away surprised at your overall efforts.” Whether Qyntel Woods ever heard him say that or not, that’s the way he approached this past season for his Poland based Asseco Prokom Gdynia team. In doing so, he led his team further than any Polish team’s ever gone in Euroleague competition, and to the surprise of some, he may have very well just played himself right back into that league Jackson’s coached in for the last 20 years. Over the weekend I had a chance to talk with Qyntel about that recent run, as well the season he’s had in Poland so far this year.
“Playing in the Euroleague, that’s the closest you’re going to get to NBA competition [outside the League], so you know it’s tough. But my teammates and I just came together this season, and we just did everything we could do possible to play as well as we could together. We had some bumps early in the season, and we just found a way to get it together in the end.”
That end was an unexpected run to the Euroleague Elite Eight, and that tough competition included names like Josh Childress and Linas Kleiza. Woods’ Asseco Prokom team eventually did fall to the Kleiza/Childress led Olympiacos squad in the quarters, but not without winning a game against the perennial Euro-power in that best of five series. Woods averaged over 19 points and 9 rebounds in the four games against Olympiacos, and through twenty Euroleague games he totaled averages of 17 points and 6 rebounds per night. He attributes his approach this season with a lot the success he’s had – both individually and as a team – on those foreign hardwoods.
“I was just more focused on this season over here [this year] and I wasn’t worried about anything that was going on back home with the NBA teams as far as what they were saying. I was just focused on the task at hand, and just tried to go out and do the best I could every night. ”
That best Woods could do every night was also recognized as the best performance of any Forward in the Euroleague this past week. Eurobasket.com named Qyntel 1st team All Euroleague as well as Forward of the Year for his overall efforts this season. And that play has not only attracted attention from those teams back home, but also created a connection with Polish fans who’ve dubbed him the ‘European LeBron.’
“Yeah it’s fair to say I developed a connection with the Polish Fans that follow our team. I have a different style of game than a lot of people in Europe are used to seeing, and I think that plays a big role in why they’re drawn to me so much. I’m like a big guard at 6-8, and I can handle the ball, I can shoot, and I try to do everything as far as rebounding and blocking shots as well, and I think they’re not used to seeing a guy who does all those things. ”
They’re probably not used to seeing 6-8 guards who can handle, shoot and defend like he can — and has this season — because those guys eventually find themselves playing in the League with the real LeBron. Which is the very place Qyntel may end up next season, and he might even find himself playing alongside James himself. According to a source I spoke with last week, Cleveland and Washington are among several teams that have been over to scout Qyntel Woods this past season. But continuing his focus of the task at hand, he isn’t thinking about all that right now.
“The NBA is where I would like to be, and if I make it back to the NBA that would be great. But right now, I don’t really think about it as much as I used to. I’m focused on my career over here right now, and I’m doing well, so it’s not really my main goal, but it is a goal I would like to accomplish.”
As far as keeping up with the NBA over the past season?
“No, that’s something I just don’t do anymore. I couldn’t even tell you what teams some guys play for, I’m just not keeping up with all that right now. I’m really just focused on doing whatever I can to help my team win over here, and that’s all I’m thinking about.”
That focus is now shifted to winning the Polish League championships, which his team is favored to, after carrying the flag for Poland as far as they did in the Euroleague Tournament. That Asseco Prokom team — which also employs former Duke stand-out Daniel Ewing (12 points 3 assists per) at the guard spot – will be the same team and roster for the Polish League Tournament which gets underway on Tuesday. The other American players on Asseco Prokom’s roster include guard and former NCAA DII Player of the Year David Logan (15 ppg), former UNC Greensboro product Ronnie Burrell (8 ppg), and Junior Harrington (2 ppg) who bounced around the NBA some since graduating from Wingate in 2002.
But while Qyntel’s focus for this last stretch of games remains as simple as doing whatever he can to help his team win, he just may be forced to start thinking about what those NBA teams are saying after all, as soon as this season wraps up. You can’t put the type of numbers that he has up without them not only talking about you, but also wanting to talk to you. And that talk’s most likely going to include finding a place for Qyntel Woods somewhere back in the Association next year, whether anybody was talking about that before this season started or not.
EUROLEAGUE AWARD NOTES
Some other notable names to win various Euroleague honors include Alecks Maric (Partizan Belgrade) who was named center of the year by Eurobasket.com and is also a guy who a lot of NBA people are high on. The aforementioned Kleiza (Olympiacos) was the other Forward on that First Team squad, and ex-Hawk Josh Childress (Olympiacos) was a Second Teamer at that position behind both Woods, and Kleiza. Juan Carlos Navarro (Regal FC Barcelona) was also named to the Second Team, and former lottery pick of the Cavaliers — Trajan Langdon (CSKA Moskow) – was named to the Third Team along with former First Round selection of the San Antonio Spurs Tiago Splitter (Caja Laboral). Foreign-born guard Milos Teodosic, also of Olympiacos, was named Player of the Year. Qyntel Woods was also named to the All-Defensive Team as well as All-Import Team, which was rounded out by former MSU Spartan Alan Anderson (Maccabi Tel Aviv) along with Langdon, Woods, Childress, and Maric.
EUROLEAGUE FINAL FOUR NOTES
The Final Four gets underway on May 7, with the following match-ups:
Olympiacos vs. Partizan Belgrade
Regal FC Barcelona vs. CSKA Moskow
Notable names in the Final Four:
Olympiacos: Linas Kleiza (17ppg), Josh Childress (15 ppg), Patrick Beverley (3 ppg)
Partizan Belgrade: Alecks Maric (14 ppg, 9 rpg), Lawrence Roberts (9 ppg, 7 rpg)
Regal FC Barcelona: Ricky Rubio (6 ppg, 4apg), Juan Carlos Navarro (14 ppg), Pete Mickeal (12 ppg)
CSKA Moskow: Trajan Langdon (14 ppg), Pops Mensah-Bonsu (5 ppg), Sasha Kaun (10 ppg)
Awards Reference: Eurobasket ’09-10 All Euroleague Awards