Connor Wood is a 25 year old 193cm guard from Guelph, Ontario playing his second professional season and first in Germany with the Uni Baskets Paderborn. Currently through 15 games he is averaging 12,2ppg, 2,3rpg and 2,7apg while shooting an astronomical 47,1% from outside. He played his rookie season with Niagara River Lions (NBL Canada) playing 44 games averaging 9.2ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 54.0%, 3PT: 36.6%, FT: 74.2%. He played at Carleton University (CIS) from 2012-2017 playing a total of 124 CIS games. In his senior season he played 23 games averaging 17.4ppg, 4.0rpg, 2.6apg, 1.1spg, FGP: 49.1%, 3PT: 48.3%, FT: 79.5%. He won 5 CIS titles and 2 OUA titles. He spoke to germanhoops.com before his arrival in Paderborn.
Hi Connor thanks for talking to germanhoops.com Where are you at the moment and how was your summer?
Currently I’m in Paderborn doing preseason with the team. My summer was good got some time to travel and continue training.
Before we get into the heart of the interview, I have to ask you what is the secret of becoming an amazing shooter at Carleton (CIS)? So many guys have done it in the past not to mention your ex teammate Philip Scrubb?
I think it’s all about reps just making sure you are shooting the ball enough. It’s different for everybody but if you get enough shoots up anybody can become a great shooter.
After playing your rookie season in Canada last season with the Niagara River Lions (NBL), you will be making your debut in Europe in Germany with the Uni Baskets Paderborn. What do you know in general about the country Germany and it’s basketball? Did you talk to the Scrubb brothers or Tyson Hinz about their experiences in Germany to help make your decision easier?
Yea I talked to them and heard good things mostly talking about the cities and experience. Tyson told me to make sure I’m comfortable with the coaching staff and how they’re running things which I think I’ve found a good spot here in Paderborn for that. I enjoy the ball movement and pushing to get the best looks on offence since that was what I was used to at Carleton.
How did you personally experience your second summer transfer period? After a solid rookie season in Canada with what expectations did you go into this summer and did you get many offers and how thankful are you of Matt Slan’s work of getting you the Paderborn gig?
It was a much more detailed experience last summer I was just training not sure what was going to happen where this summer with Matt I knew we were going to work hard to find a good opportunity overseas. I was getting some looks and got a good offer by Paderborn welcoming me to their team. I’m very thankfully for Matt’s work! Last year I was waiting till fall without much interest so it was a nice change to have interest a lot earlier and actually get an offer overseas. Which is thanks to the effort Matt put in.
Congrats on signing with German Pro A team Uni Baskets Paderborn. How thankful are you to be starting your European career in Paderborn for head coach Ulu Naechster?
I am very thanking to Uli and to the whole Paderborn organization for bringing me over and letting me show that I have the ability to play and help them win in this league.
What was your impression of head coach Naechster. He wasn’t only high on the obvious that you’re a great shooter, but have an immaculate character. Was the feeling mutual?
Undoubtedly the feeling was very mutual I could tell that we both want to win and that he was a great person to be around. We’ve gotten along well and I think that will continue. He expects everybody to work hard which is the most important part of winning in any good league.
Your coming into a very competitive league with the Pro A. You didn’t play as much in your first two seasons at Carleton (CIS) but averaged double figures in scoring in your last three seasons and had a good NBL rookie season. How confident are you that you won’t be just a good Pro A player, but an impact player?
I’m very confident that I can be an impact player for our team. I think my season last year wasn’t as strong as it could’ve been so I’m looking to continue improving and show that I can help my team win. Competitive games are the best part of basketball so I’m looking forward to my experience this year.
You won 5 CIS titles and 2 OUA titles. You also won 3 Gold Medals with Canada in the last two summers. Is it difficult for you to remain being hungry when you have won so much. How do you see remaining highly motivated to keep winning titles as you continue your professional career?
It’s not hard since I find that winning is addictive once you win and you know the feeling and fun that you get with winning and it’s the only thing you want to do in sports. The more you win the more you want to win and hate to lose. That was a big thing that everybody at Carleton taught me to always have that drive to win.
Let’s talk about your game. You’re a 193cm guard that can shoot the ball at a very high level. If you had to compare your game to an NBA player which player would best fit how you present yourself on the court?
I like to play my game kind of like Klay Thompson. Come of screens ready to shoot make the extra pass, spread the floor out, ready to drive if they contest to much.
When looking at your film the first thing that really stands out is your shooting stroke. You shoot the ball not straight, but at a right angle. It reminds a bit of Jamaal Wilkens of the legendary Lakers of the 80’s who also had an unorthodox shot. How did this technique come to life. Did you always have it or was it developed under Dave Smart at Carleton?
It started midway through high school I moved my elbow in but my shot still stayed out by shoulder. Dave didn’t care how I shot it as long as a shot it at a good percentage if I wasn’t shooting the ball well I’m sure we would have changed my shot.
You’re a guy that is known for really be able to shoot at a high clip, but what other strengths does your game possess that would prove that you aren’t a one dimensional shooter?
I think my ability to see the floor, drive and hit the open man or help other teammates see whose open, defensively I play smart try and make my opponent take tough shots and read where the offence is trying to go and find ways to stop any easy looks, as well as playing off my shoot, a lot of the times they have to close out hard which allows me to get in the lane to ether score a layup or pass to a teammate.
You’re a guy that can fill the stat sheet, but what do you feel is a hidden strength in your game that doesn’t get noticed right away on the court?
I think stopping the ball in closeouts allow my team to set up defense again as well as what I think gets overlooked a lot by stats in general which is the pass to the assist hitting the right guy who can ether make an easier pass or force the defense to move so that an easier shoot becomes available.
Last season you played as a rookie for the Niagara River Lions (NBL Canada) playing 44 games averaging 9.2ppg, 2.8rpg, 2.2apg, FGP: 54.0%, 3PT: 36.6%, FT: 74.2%. It was your first time in five years at Carleton (CIS) that you didn’t reach the 40% mark or better from outside. As a great shooter how did last season effect you mentally not shooting the way you know how and how do you see getting to the 40% mark again? Is it all about reps and shot selection or is it more complex?
It was tough. It’s all about being mentally prepared to shot finding balance and being confident your going to make the shot. Last year was a big adjustment in me trying to find when to shoot it and a lot of frustration when I would be open and not get the ball. This was a big change from my years at Carleton and really effected my efficiency from behind the arc. I learned a lot from that year in making sure that I am always ready and confident to shoot, finding different ways to get open.
Will you always remember the 97-95 win against St Johns last season mainly because it was your breakout game as a professional as you scored 23 points on 5/7 shooting from outside?
That was a game where I finally started to feel back like a did at Carleton. It was great to feel confident and take the shots that I would normally take. I don’t think I’ll remember the games as much as the feeling making sure that I am working hard and comfortable to play my game.
You had some very interesting teammates at Niagra with Sam Muldrow who played in Germany, Adam Klie who will also start his career in Germany in the Pro B with Giessen and ex NBA player Kris Joseph. What positives will you take form your rookie season and your interactions with these three guys I mentioned?
It was a big learning experience last year seeing how different everything is at the pro level I think it really helped prepare me going forward. Sam was a funny guy and a good shot blocker made you adjust around the rim made me work on finishing in different ways or finding the right pass. Kris was a great one on one scorer using a variety of moves to get his shoot of. So defending him I had to always make sure my hand was in his pocket so he wouldn’t get a clean look. Adam is a great guy we are still friends was always a lot of fun playing with him out on the court and hanging out with him through the year he’s tough as nails and a great player. I think he’ll do great things this year.
You played at Carleton from 2012-2017 and had an amazing career winning 7 titles just as many as Philip Scrubb. He has been catergorized as the greatest college player ever in Canada. How would you like to be remembered with your stellar career at Carleton
I would like to be remembered as a winner a guy who played hard shot well and knows what it took to win.
You won 7 titles at Carleton and had many great games. Is there one title that meant the most to you or were all 7 titles equally important and special?
I only personally won 5 they won 7 straight but I came in after the first 2. I think it’s between my 3rd year and my 4th year. Those we’re probably the most memorable to me. I think all of them were special but my 3rd year was the year I really started to have an impact and help my team to win. Then my forth year everybody was doubting us we’d just lost the scrubs and victor Raso with Dave taking his sabbatical that year as well. Was a great effort by a whole team and made that year stand out as well.
Talk a little about your relationship with Philip Scrubb early in your career at Carleton? Was he like a shooting mentor for you then and did any of his shooting ability and how he played the game rub off on you a bit?
Phil lead by example and nobody shot more than him so you knew if you wanted to get better you had to try and shot as much as Phil. I definitely learned a lot from how Phil played the way he passed the ball, using outstretched finishes at the rim, using your body to create space to get a good shot of, and mostly the way to get better is to put in the effort and constantly work on what you want to improve.
How did head coach Dave Smart groom and prepare you best for a professional career?
Dave taunt me so much about basketball almost every read I make on the court has some influence from him and the other coaches. Reading screens, how to defend each screen, positioning away from the ball, how to find ways to want to work hard, plays hard for the whole game, looking forward to competition, wanting practice to be harder than the games are. Everybody in the Carleton team helped me learn so much which changed my game to be a lot smarter.
One guy I really have enjoyed watching on film is Kaza Keane who seems to have a bright professional future. You must still be thankful how often he gunned the ball to you on the wing. What will you miss most about his game?
Yea Kaza was a great passer from inside I knew that if he didn’t have a layup he was going to turn and try to find me. Definitely his ability to create, a lot of the times the defense was forced to look at him which allowed me to get some easy looks.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Kaza Keane?
We both did, I think I won more than he did, but I’m pretty sure we each think we can beat each other. Always get good competitions.
How did your 2018 summer work out plan look like? On what things will you be working on most so you will be fully prepared for your second professional season?
My summer workout plan was focused on making sure I’m improving my dribbling ability and attacking the basket aggressively. Improving my shooting off the dribble, putting myself in pressure shooting situations, as well as making sure I’m ready to make an impact to help my team succeed in this league.
If you had to construct your very own NBA Rushmore which 4 heads would you pick old or new?
I would pick Jordan, Magic, Bird, Abdul-Jabbar
Tracy Mcgrady said that the Boston Celtics will be the Golden State Warriors of the future. Do you see that happening?
I don’t know if they’ll be as good as the warriors are now but it’s definitely looking good for their future. They have a lot of great young talent that showed last year they can really play
Deandre Ayton was the #1 NBA draft pick in 2018. Do you feel that from sheer talent and experience that Luka Doncic should have been the real #1 draft pick?
Unfortunately, I haven’t seen too much of ether of them so I don’t think I can say who would be a better first pick it’ll be interesting to see how they both do this season!
Lebron James makes amazing passes in every game, but really showcased it in a game this season against the Los Angeles Lakers. He already is like a point guard, but if he played just point guard and concentrated only on playmaking how many assists do you feel would he average per game?
He could average double digits for sure.
What was the last movie that you saw?
The last movie I saw was Iron Man.
Thanks Connor for the chat.