AAvery Woodson (188-PG-93, college: Butler) is a 29 year old 188cm guard from Waynesboro, Missouri playing his 5th professional season and first with BC Kyiv Basket (Ukraine-Superleague) averaging 12,3ppg, 3,6rpg and 2,8apg in the Super League.. He has had a lot of experience in Europe having played in countries like Greece, Finland and Sweden and teams like Panionios ON Telecoms Athens (Greece-A1), Kaarinan Ura Basket (Finland-Korisliiga), Kouvot Kouvola (Finland-Korisliiga) and Boras Basket (Sweden-Basketligan). He began his basketball career at Wayne High School and then played at 3 schools with East Mississippi Community College (JUCO), the University of Memphis (NCAA) where he averaged 7.9ppg, 2.4rpg, 1.1apg, 1.0spg, FGP: 36.9%, 3PT: 37.7%, FT: 82.1% and 9.6ppg, 2.6rpg, 1.4apg, FGP: 40.7%, 3PT: 43.0%, FT: 70.0%. He played his senior year at Butler University (NCAA) averaging 8.9ppg, 2.6rpg, FGP: 46.7%, 3PT: 42.1%, FT: 76.9%. He spoke to germanhoops.com before a Fiba Europe Cup game against the Hakro Merlins.
Thanks Avery for talking to germanhoops.com. Where are you at the moment and how is basketball life treating you?
No problem at all, I appreciate the opportunity. I am in Kyiv, Ukraine in year 5 of my career playing with a special group of guys and a great coach. I am enjoying it.
Since COVID emerged you played in Sweden and the Ukraine. What was the biggest challenge for you on and off the court during the pandemic?
I would say that the biggest challenge has been playing without the fan support. There were were no fans at all in Sweden last year and the country had limitations on a lot of things so there was not much to do besides basketball and grocery shopping. This year is a bit better. We have fans and there are less restrictions compared to last year.
With all that you experienced during COVID, how do you believe did you get stronger as a man?
This is great question. I’ve learned to really take care of the mind and use the time that we have to better yourself mentally. Since covid, I’ve read more books that I have in my entire life. It’s been really helpful to build mental strength with so life changing so much.
Your playing your fifth professional season and first with BC Kyiv Basket (Ukraine-Superleague). What kind of an experience has it been playing in the Ukraine and how does the Super League compare in style and talent to the Finnish and Swedish leagues?
My experience so far has been great. I really enjoy playing with this team and for Coach Bagatskis. The Ukrainian league has really grown over the years and this year especially, it is a lot of good talented players in the league this year. It’s pretty hard for me to compare the leagues. I’ve felt they were all different in their own right. The Finnish league was a very fast paced game. The Swedish league is very intimate because it’s not so many teams so all the teams really watch film and try to take away what you like to do. Here in Ukraine every game is different. Everyone has their own style of basketball and things they like to do. Every game from top to bottom is a dog fight. It’s really competitive.
Since leaving Greece you have been a consistent scorer which you weren’t as much in the NCAA. What kind of a player have you transformed into since your rookie season?
In college, I wasn’t asked to do more than catch and shoot. But I always knew I could do more than that. I would always work on my game and try to be more. I wasn’t satisfied being so limited offensively in college and my 2nd year pro I finally got the opportunity to showcase my actual talent. I’m so thankful that I’m not limited as a pro. It makes the game so much more fun when you can be yourself as a player.
Your still seeking your first professional title. Could this be the season? How much bigger does the itch get each season?
I love winning. I definitely want to win a championship in my career but I also try not to look so far ahead and stay in the moment and enjoy the process. It’s a very very long season and I don’t want to get lost looking in the future. I will say that this team is very good though.
Last season you played with Boras Basket (Sweden-Basketligan) playing 36 games averaging 15.8ppg, 4.0rpg, 2.8apg, FGP: 50.6%, 3PT: 37.2%, FT: 87.6%. What do you remember from your 39 point explosion against BC Lulea where you dueled against ex NBA player Toure Murray?
I really enjoyed playing for Boras. I’m still upset that we lost in the playoffs so early. But That was a really fun game. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the win, but I came out aggressive. My first few shots went in and I was able to find a rhythm from there and my teammates were helping me a lot. Finding me and setting good screens to get me open.
In the 2019-2020 season you played with Kouvot Kouvola (Finland-Korisliiga) you played 13 games averaging 16.8ppg, 3.5rpg, 2.8apg, 1.3spg, FGP: 46.7%, 3PT: 42.6%, FT: 90.5%. What kind of an experience was it playing with super veteran Kevin Johnson? What was it like having a guy like that protecting the paint?
I really enjoyed playing for Kouvot. Kevin is a very special person. He feels like an older brother and definitely wants people around him to succeed. He plays super hard and competes on every single play. I was also able to learn from a great veteran in the game, David Gonzalvez. Both of those guys helped me a ton!
You played the 2018-2019 season with Kaarinan Ura Basket (Finland-Korisliiga) averaging 18.1ppg, 4.4rpg, 2.5apg, 1.2spg, FGP: 53.0%, 3PT: 39.0%, FT: 80.0%. How important was this season for your career after coming off a tough rookie season?
I feel like this was the first opportunity I had to really be the player I wanted to be. My opportunities were limited in college. I had a tough time in Greece and all of that fueled me to really take that opportunity and run with it. I’m very thankful for Ura basket. I feel like that’s where my pro career really started.
You played your rookie season with Panionios ON Telecoms Athens (Greece-A1) averaging 7.2ppg, 3.1rpg, 1.8apg, FGP: 44.4%, 3PT: 37.7%, FT: 76.9%. What do you remember being your wake up calling to being a rookie where you knew that you were far away from home?
Greece was tough. I remember being at the airport and watching my family leave. It was an empty feeling knowing your about to leave everything and everyone behind. The Greek league is a very tough league. If you’re not ready to play it can really be hard for you. I met some great people and had a chance to learn from a vet in Esian Henderson. I still talk to him and he still helps me out and tells me to get pushing when things get tough. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything. It made me tougher and pushed me to be better.
You got trounced by Euroleague team Panathinaikos and Olympiakos but held your own being efficient. What memories do you have playing against some incredible players and legends like Vassilis Spanoulis?
That was an amazing experience to play against players that have seen it all and done it all. And to hold your own and compete makes it even better. We didn’t win the games but as a competitor you cherish those moments to share the floor with some special players. I want to be in their shoes one day so whenever you get the opportunity to play against them you have to give it your all.
You played at East Mississippi Community College (JUCO) from 2012-2014. Every guy I speak to that played JUCO said it was very tough, but the best experience in their life. How was it for you?
It was very very tough. Scooba, Mississippi is a very small place. Nothing to do. Nothing to see. It’s all school and basketball. You have to be mentally tough to make the best of your time there. I’m very proud to have graduated from EMCC. It’s a lot of talent that is there and that has played there and I’m proud to be one of them.
You played at the University of Memphis from 2014-2016. Within a few weeks you defeated UConn twice by a combined total of only 4 points. What do you remember being the wildest memory that you had from these games?
I remember the UCONN crowd being crazy loud. And when we played at home in Memphis, I remember that being the most fans I’ve ever seen at one of our games. They were the defending national champions so those games felt like NCAA tournament games.
How do you feel did your game grow in those 2 years under Josh Pastner?
Coach Pastner really taught me how to be a self starter. Everything we did was tough. Practice, weights, conditioning. All of it. If you couldn’t motivate yourself, you wouldn’t last at Memphis. It’s a very demanding place to play. Coach Pastner knew I was very responsible so he gave me a lot of opportunities to be on the floor in pressure situations. And he taught me how to be more efficient. After my first year with him I shot 37% percent from 3 and he told me that he needed me to shoot 40% or better and really challenged me in the off season to be a better 3pt shooter.
You played a graduate season at Butler (NCAA) averaging 8.9ppg, 2.6rpg, FGP: 46.7%, 3PT: 42.1%, FT: 76.9%. You played your last NCAA game against powerhouse North Carolina losing 90-82. You played against many future NBA players in that game. Which player do you remember making the biggest impression on you?
Justin Jackson. Easily. He caused us so many problems. He could shoot from deep and he could also shoot the mid range and he had a very soft touch around the rim. And he’s 6’9 so he was very tough to guard. Roy Williams is a hall of fame coach, it’s hard to surprise him especially in the tournament. It’s no surprise that they won it all that year. Making it to the Sweet 16 with that Butler team and coaches is a dream come true.
How did head coach Chris Holtmann groom and prepare you best for a professional career?
Coach Holtmann was very demanding. He demanded excellence from all of his players and expected us to be a star in our role. If he asked you to do something he expected you to be the best at it. He’s a very smart guy and one of the best coaches I’ve ever been around. And his staff was incredible. He embodies team and uses everybody to win. In Europe, it’s the same. You need everybody to win and one person can’t do everything. Everybody has to be a star in their role to be successful.
Who won a one on one in practice you or Tyler Lewis?
I don’t think we ever played one on one but T Lew is an incredible pick up player. Ask around. He’s unstoppable. But if we were to play I’d beat T Lew.
Who was the toughest player that you faced in the NCAA that reached the NBA?
Jalen Brunson. He gave us major problems every time we played him. He’s so skilled. It’s nothing he couldn’t do offensively. He could post. He can pass. He can shoot the mid range. He can shoot the 3. He’s an incredible player.
Please name your 5 best teammates of all-time?
That’s tough. I hope I don’t leave anybody out. I would say Tyler Wideman, David Gonzalvez, Kevin Johnson, Jeremy Harris, Esian Henderson.
Please list your personal NBA Mount Rushmore of past or present heads?
Lebron James, Michael Jordan, Kobe, Steph Curry,
Kareem What is your personal opinion of the never ending debate of who is the greatest of all-time Michael Jordan or Lebron James?
I think Michael Jordan reached a level of greatness no one can surpass. He was a rockstar. His brand sells more shoes than anybody. People from every corner of the Earth may know who Michael Jordan is. He’s perfect in the finals, and has every accolade there is to win. It’s hard to top that level of greatness. HOWEVER, Lebron is the best player to ever play. He’s done it for longer than anybody ever has and he’s going to be the all time leading scorer ever. I hope that makes sense.
Did you see the sequel of the classic Coming To America? Shouldn’t they have left it alone?
I didn’t watch it. I heard it wasn’t great. I think we have to leave the classic movies alone for sure. My mom always says, If it’s not broken don’t fix it.
Thanks Avery for the chat.