Jordan Woodard was never meant to be an alpha leader, like, say, Russell Westbrook. On media day, both he and Khadeem Lattin both maintained that, while Woodard set the tone with his leadership by example, Lattin was the vocal leader, the general of the team.
And, while Lattin is certainly a talented player, Woodard takes the cake for the squad’s leader talent-wise.
Anybody who’s covered Woodard knows that he’s a quiet and measured guy. Following win or following loss, his words always came in short spurts. That was just Jordan.
He was never meant to be the alpha, and you could tell that it weighed on him in his final season in Norman. His up-and-down season was probably best evidenced by the spell where he sat out four games with an ‘undisclosed medical condition,’ and then dropped three straight 20-point games — some of the best of his career.
“He’ll go down as one of the all-time greats in Oklahoma basketball,” coach Lon Kruger said. “When you look at the points scored, the assists, the steals, the free throw percentage, the wins – three tournament teams, the Sweet Sixteen, the Final Four. That’s all pretty significant as a player and he’ll go down as one of the most celebrated in all those areas.”
Like Kruger said, Woodard’s contributions have been significant: he is ranked fourth in school history in assists, fifth in made free throws, and 14th on OU’s all-time scoring list. Woodard also started every game he played in his first three seasons. Woodard is one of three Sooners ever to collect over 180 steals and 470 assists. He left an indelible mark, but he did so quietly — it was the Woodard way.
“Injury is kind of new for me,” Woodard said. “I’ve dealt with injury before in my basketball career but, during college, I’ve been pretty successful at staying on the court. Now, I’m going to have to be that leader off the court and just use the things I’ve learned throughout my years here to better your team and do anything possible I can to get the guys ready.”
Woodard remembers last season’s Final Four trip as his fondest memory in crimson and cream. He cites Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins, and Ryan Spangler as his biggest mentors on the court:
“I appreciate all those guys, they meant so much to me,” Woodard said. “Coming here as a young guy, those were my older guys that I looked up to. They just always send me encouraging words and they never let me settle. They never let me become complacent. I picked up a big part of my work ethic in the gym from those guys, my knowledge for the game from those guys.”
It was a tumultuous senior season for Woodard, and he almost looked relieved, happy the pressure was finally off of his back in his exit press conference. He left with a promise:
“I just wanted my teammates to know that everything is going to be alright,” he said. “This is not the last of Jordan Woodard.”
We wish Jordan luck in whatever endeavors come next.