Senior Billy Woodhams made his commitment to play basketball at Hope College official on Friday; just hours before a great performance at the Otsego vs. Plainwell game. He made the decision to play for Hope back in October, but as his senior season winds down, and the college season gets closer, an official photo now marks the occasion.
“It’s going to be fun. I’m really excited. They have an excellent athletic program, especially their basketball program,” Woodhams says. Hope’s men’s basketball program has a winning reputation, so that just makes it that much more exciting to be a part of. He’s met with coaches and a few of the players; he’s joined them at open gyms a couple times and went to a January game.
But Hope College first came into his view as he was searching for the right academic fit, hoping it would also be an athletic opportunity. “I wanted to make sure I had a good academic school first. I found Hope. It was a combination of both academic and athletic excellence.”
Like most high school players who commit to their sport at the college level, he’s looking forward to a more intense level of play and atmosphere, “Playing on that team is going to be incredible,” he says. “I’ll be playing with other players who love the game as much as I do and work just as hard.”
Billy is the first to admit he’s had to work very hard to get where he is today. He played Little Dawgs, Hoopsters and middle school basketball, but wasn’t a standout. “I wasn’t good,” he says. It really hit him at the end of 7th grade, “I sat the bench all year. I decided at the end of that year that I wanted to work at it.” He also joined an AAU travel basketball team before his 9th grade year and credits his coach, Cecil Brown, for helping him continue to improve, “He saw that I wasn’t very good, but saw that I worked hard and wanted it so he helped me get better. One of his goals was getting me to play basketball in college.
“I’ve worked thousands of hours every day trying to get better,” he says. Hours of focus on his diet, workouts, drills, season practices - it worked. After his freshman year, he moved up to varsity and was a part of the 2015 Regional Championship team. That is still one of the highlights of his Otsego basketball career. “That was incredible. That was the greatest feeling. Playing with all those seniors, that was great playing with them.”
He now averages 18 points per game and 8 rebounds. His highest scoring game is 38 points in AAU, 36 points in a high school game. He holds the Otsego High School record for the most 3-pointers in a season, at 77. He also holds the record for the most 3 pointers per game, at 3.7. Shooting 3’s is a staple of his in a game. He was named All-Conference last year and is on course to repeat in that category this year.
Playing basketball in college is something he’s been looking forward to, but this 4.0 student also has his sights set high for his future. He’ll be a Pre-Med student majoring in Biology. “I want to do something in the medical field.” That was another reason why he chose Hope College, “They have an excellent all around education, but their science department excels in getting students into med school.”
He’ll continue to keep up his school work and finish the season strong, prepping for the next phase, “Once the buzzer goes off on one season, it’s the beginning of the next.”