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GIBSON CITY — Point blank, Tom Wood is a character.
The Rantoul Township High School senior’s quirky sense of humor and sarcastic nature makes one wonder if he ever has serious moments.
Even making his varsity basketball debut during the Eagles’ 80-51 win against Serena on Nov. 20 at the 41st annual Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley Thanksgiving Tournament, Wood looked anything but nervous.
You might expect nerves since he was cut after he tried out last year for the Eagles’ hoops squad that had a talented cast of seniors. Especially with his shot.
“He has a pretty unorthodox shot,” RTHS head coach Brett Frerichs said in an understatement. “You look at him and you think there’s no way he’s going to make it when it leaves his fingertips, but he’s been shooting like that all his life. If he’s open, as ugly as it may look at times, he can hit it.”
He did against Serena, draining three 3-pointers en route to a game-high 17 points.
“The way he shoots it, he shoots it with two hands, so I always think it’s going this way or that way, but somehow it goes in,” RTHS senior forward Greg Morrow said. “Hey, you can’t complain about that.”
Yes, 10 of his points in the season opener were in fourth quarter garbage time after the Eagles had built a 56-33 lead against the overmatched Huskers.
And yes, Wood did not contribute much the rest of the tournament, seeing the floor in limited action.
But for one night, Wood stood out with his play. And for his shot that most can try to imitate, but will likely fail at mimicking its exact nuances the first time they try to.
The closest comparison comes in the form of Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah’s jump shot, but watching Noah’s shot is a lot more aesthetically pleasing than Wood’s.
A pure jump shot, like the one some of Woods’ teammates have, resembles artwork done by Claude Monet.
The beauty and attention to detail is easy to spot. Wood’s shot resembles artwork done by Jackson Pollock. People might appreciate it, but to the untrained eye, it just looks like a mess at first sight.
And if Wood ever wants to patent his unusual-looking shot, he’s already come up with a name for it.
“The Tom Wood shot,” he deadpanned. “It’s one of a kind.”
Yes, yes it is.
But so is Wood. Even if he doesn’t play meaningful minutes the rest of the season (right now the Eagles are trying to figure out a rotation that most likely won’t be finalized until much later in the season, especially with returning all-conference guard Johnny Jones missing the first five games because of an athletic code violation. Frerichs said Saturday Jones will miss the squad’s home opener against Bloomington Central Catholic because he isn’t eligible academically)
Wood’s play against Serena was a refreshing reminder that looks can deceive.
“Tom Wood is Tom Wood,” Morrow said with a laugh. “He’s just been that way for years. He’s an all-around good guy and teammates. He has moments. It was good to see him get his shot going.”
No matter how unsightly it looks.
Matt Daniels is the sports editor with the Rantoul Press newspaper. Like the column, love the column or hate the column? Let him know at firstname.lastname@example.org