In just one year, 6-foot-7 wing Robert Woodard II went from shooting 27.3 percent from three to making 42.9 of his attempts from beyond the arc. The Mississippi State product credits that boost in production to his work ethic and told us that the accomplishment exemplifies how he can also continue to get better in the NBA.
Please note that this interview transcription was very minorly edited for clarity.
How have you been using your time recently to prepare for the draft?
Robert Woodard II: Just training, all day, every day, mentally and physically, just doing the whole nine yards. It’s been a pretty good experience being at home for a long time. It has given me a lot of time with my family that I missed out on over the past few years. I’ve enjoyed it a lot. Basketball wise, I would say it is a waiting game. It’s kind of like a mind game right now. You just never know when things will actually get back to the way they were. So just being prepared at all times has been my mentality throughout this whole deal.
Obviously, the season ended unexpectedly early. What do you think your team could have done if it had continued?
RW: I felt like we were going to make an NCAA run just considering things were falling in favor for us and teams lost some games that we needed them to lose in order for us to get a bye in the SEC Tournament. So that’s just how we felt. We had a lot of confidence going into our game against Ole Miss, which was a big confidence booster. We were gelling at the right time. We felt good about it.
What do you credit the increase in your three-point percentage during your time in college?
RW: All I can say is I put in the work, put in the time, got the reps day in and day out, just stuck with it every day. My main focus was just the lowest amount of movements as possible within my shot. I needed to get straight to the point, not dragging it out, no wasted motion from the catch to the release to make things more accurate. That was the main thing I focused on, just keeping everything tight and square to the basket. But other than that, it was all about reps.
What are some of the other ways you were able to grow the most during your time in college?
RW: College definitely taught me how to manage my time and prioritize the right things because in college you really have to be on it, whether it was academics or basketball. I definitely learned how to set time aside for the things that I needed to do. From a basketball perspective, I got mentally stronger and physically stronger and a whole lot smarter than I was before I got there. I learned the game and was coached by elite coaches and played against elite talent. It definitely elevated my game and made me the person that I am today.
You shot over 40.0 percent from three-point range but what do you think the other best elements of your game are?
RW: Considering my skill on the defensive end, I’m a 3-and-D guy. I feel like I can switch the one through five and hold my own as well. I take defense personally. I get offended when people score on me. But I can really give the credit to my freshman year, practicing with Quinndary Weatherspoon every day. He really made me a better defender. I learned ankles and learn different moves and how to cut people off. I feel like it will translate well to the next level, especially with the guard play that we had in practice as well as in games going against great. I feel like my defense will translate very well.
Have you had a chance to speak with Quinndary Weatherspoon since he has made the NBA and if so, what advice has he given you about being a professional?
RW: The main tip that he has given me is just being ready, being prepared whenever you take that next step. Now that it’s my job, it’s how my family will eat one day and how I will get paid. He said to just enjoy the process and put as much work in as you can to be the best player that you can be.
You still had a couple of years left of remaining collegiate eligibility but you were coming off a really strong season. What went into the decision to declare for the 2020 NBA Draft?
RW: It really took a lot of praying. But mainly I was just thinking about the coronavirus and I was thinking about college basketball and if they were going to have a season or not. I also considered the range I was in and if I would be comfortable with that range. I wanted to make sure I didn’t regret my decision either way. I wanted to make the best decision that I thought was right in the moment for my future as well as for my family. So that is basically what I based it on, weighing the information and the pros and cons.
That makes a ton of sense. What kind of feedback have you been getting from NBA teams so far?
RW: I’ve been getting information about where I can get drafted and it is most likely anywhere from No. 25 overall to the 35 and 40 range. That is pretty good. A lot of teams are pretty interested in my game. It’s just a matter of being able to prove myself, whether it be through the virtual combine or otherwise. I just want to prove myself and establish who I am. I want to prove myself and establish who I am for the teams because a lot of teams are very interested in me but they just don’t know my full potential yet.
When you talk to NBA teams, what is the one thing you want them to know about you as a player?
Check this incredible defensive sequence from Mississippi State's Robert Woodard II. Follow #12, guards/switches onto 4 players on one possession, finishing with contest at rim: pic.twitter.com/W1MvEUvnt2
— Jonathan Wasserman (@NBADraftWass) January 29, 2020
RW: I really want them to know that I’m a hard-working guy on and off the floor. I’m very competitive when it comes to just about anything. I’m an all-around guy on the floor on both the offensive end and the defensive end. I’m able to create for my teammates without having the ball in my hands. A lot of the times, I’ve been able to back-door cut. I also take things personally on the defensive end. I’m able to switch one through five, especially when teams are playing small ball. I’m versatile on both ends of the floor.
Those are great attributes. What do you like to let them know about your personality?
RW: My personality off the course is totally different than what it is on the court. It’s almost like a split personality. I’m very calm, outgoing, I love to laugh and joke. I even-keeled all the time, pretty much. When I’m on the court, I’m like a different person. I’m relentless.
You also mentioned the combine, which you are participating in this year. What are some of the areas you think you will excel and what will those measurements prove about your game?
RW: I feel like my vertical would probably impress some people along with my wingspan. I mainly use my wingspan on defense. I don’t have to be as close to guys, which is a big advantage when it comes to bothering people and blocking shots. It makes it a lot easier. I can get there quicker, having long arms has also helped me cover more ground and get rebounds. For me to have a long wingspan and high vertical shows my natural skills as a defender. I want to show my agility for defense and also show my explosiveness. I want to be consistent throughout the whole deal.
Transitioning a little bit, I know you received Academic Honor Roll during your first season in the SEC. Tell me about your studies and your experience in the classroom.
RW: I majored in marketing with a minor in communications and it was something I was very interested in and it taught me a lot. As far as everyday life, these are things that will help me out in the future like how to manage my money and things of that nature. I really enjoyed it while I was in school. These are definitely some things I’m considering picking up in the near future. Overall, l it was a great experience to major in that because it is something that I use in everyday life. It’s very important.
I hear you have a dog barking in the background. Tell me a little more about your dog?
RW: My dog is a Rottweiler. He is a little over a year old right now. So he’s fairly young. He’s a pretty chill dog for the most part. He likes to be outside. He likes to run around and stuff. But once we’re inside, he’s pretty chill.
Besides hanging out with the dog, what else do you like to do when you are not playing basketball?
RW: Other hobbies I like to do besides basketball is to play guitar and go hunting and fishing and horseback riding whenever I can. I’m a big fan of the bass guitar but I also like the electric guitar. I have quite a few. I have about seven guitars, total. I have two bass guitars and like five electric guitars. I just liked to play. I was playing at my church at one point when I was in high school. I have played since my senior year of high school. But now it’s just a small hobby on the side and something that I practice. I like to cover John Mayer because I really like his style a lot. I also like covering Daniel Caeser and Anderson Paak.
You have excellent taste! What music do you like to listen to before games?
RW: I’m a relaxed type of guy before games. I don’t really like to get hyped up. listened to a lot of R&B or reggae or something like that. But honestly, most of the time, I’m probably listening to country music before games. My favorite country musician is Brad Paisley and I’ve really gotten into Luke Combs lately. He’s been pretty high on my radar lately. Easton Corbin has always been one of my favorites since I was a kid. Country music gives me that it gives me a summertime feeling. It just seems pretty happy to me. It just puts me in a good mood.