March 27, 2012

No knocks on Wood

Kevin McCarthy

Alvarez (Salinas) High's Mitch Wood is young but he already has connections and is putting them to valuable use in his quest for a college basketball scholarship.

photo of Mitch Wood

He comes from one of those First Families of basketball with his brothers and sister having played and his father John, a former college player at 6-foot-9, also being a long-time coach in the southern California high school ranks. However, Mitch didn't join the family roundball contingent, at least not formally, until a freshman in high school.

Now, he's coming off a junior season in which he averaged 11.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 2.8 blocks as a 6-foot-7 forward.

Wood's master plan this spring and summer is to join the Branch West Basketball Club, based out of Orange County, a longtime entity headed by Bob Gottlieb. Branch West has facilitated a number of blue chippers landing scholarships but is especially adept at connecting non-four and five star talents to colleges and universities across the basketball spectrum. But it's definitely worth noting that the top tier Branch West squad took down the Oakland Soldiers 70-54 last July in Las Vegas- based Fab 48 tournament.

Of course, having the elder Wood as the West Coast go-to guy in the Branch West organization helped facilitate matters but it's still a matter of having to perform and, as John Wood put it, "we don't take guys who we feel can't play college ball." John Wood also serves as an Alvarez assistant to Coach Mark Haddan, who himself played at Fresno State.

So Mitch Wood has this spring and summer plus his senior season to impress the college coaches.

What does he sees as his present strengths?

"It's shooting and rebounding, doing whatever it takes to help my team win," he offered. "I've grown two inches since my freshman year and my all-around skills are better."

He added, "I'm working on my low post game and my ballhandling" plus he wants to add to his present weight of 180-185 pounds.

Wood sees playing on his club team as an overall challenge.

"I don't know any of the guys but I just figure you can never do too much rebounding," Wood said. His thinking is he will be a three or a four at the next level. He'll be living with his brother in Riverside when he's down in southern California.

Academically, he is in solid shape although a current math analytics course is bedeviling him.

Wood also brought up that it's a female duo that he relies upon as his biggest motivators, that being his mother and his girlfriend (although the latter attends another Salinas high school so some crosstown rivalry is at play).

He sees Kevin Durant as his biggest basketball influence, liking what Durant does on the court despite not being a physical behemoth.