ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT

 
Gio Woods (2004)
 
Gio Woods If anyone had reasons to doubt, it was Gio Woods. But Woods, a 2004 River Ridge High School graduate, couldn’t quiet his ambition to play professional basketball. Apparently, “can’t” isn’t in this big dreamer’s vocabulary. 
 
Coming out of a small college, Woods’ ambition to play pro basketball was, well, farfetched. It wasn’t like he was an All-American guard in college, starting for UCLA. He never even played Division I basketball and didn’t even start for some major, big-time college. He wasn’t even a full-time starter his senior year at Central Washington University, a Division II school. Instead, he was a sixth-man-to-the rescue, emergency points off the bench kind of guy. He averaged nearly 10 points. 
 
Yet somehow, Woods, with this determined resilience, has proven that all that major-college resume stuff didn’t really matter. For the past six years, Woods has played professional basketball internationally in Europe, the Middle East and now Africa.  

He’s played in Spain, Austria, Venezuela, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and now in Africa. Woods flew to Tanesia, Africa, on Thursday, leaving his wife and three kids at home in Lacey.

“I just wanted to see the world,” Woods said about his die-hard ambition. “Where the opportunity calls, that’s where I’ll go.”

Woods says his life on the basketball court, traveling around the world, is simply an answer to no-quit determination, hard work and, most importantly he’ll tell you, prayer.

“God has taken me everywhere,” Woods said. “I asked to travel in my career. He’s definitely given that to me. I’m flying to different countries a lot. I’ve probably stepped foot into 20 different countries in six years.”

The roots for his big-dream ambition is part genetic. Both his mom and dad played professional basketball in Germany in the 1980s. However, before Woods would ever get a pro offer, he had to audition. Since no one was knocking on his door, he went to Las Vegas for tryouts with both the NBA’s Development League and for European teams. That first year after graduating from Central, Woods didn’t get a contract offer. So, he coached high school basketball with his dad, George Woods, in Michigan for six months. 

Woods’ dream then took him to tryouts in North Carolina and back to Las Vegas. He played in three or four different European camps and then it started to happen.

“I was getting like five offers between two camps,” Woods said. “And I signed my first deal to go to Spain.”

He signed his first professional contract to play in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain.

“It was a good experience. I played there for a year,” Woods said. “The next year I went back to Vegas again for more tryouts.”

That led to his second deal, a contract to play in Kapfenberg, Austria. The next year he went to Venezuela for four months to play basketball. That was a short league and Woods received a Player of the Year award.
 
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