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May 25, 2013

Video star: Woods trying to live up to hype

MORE: Under Armour Invitational Friday

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Saturday was a bit of a put-up-or-shut-up day at the Under Armour Invitational. Not only was it the first day of eliminations from bracket play, it was also a day for individuals to raise their stock in the rankings world.

And many of them did just that, with several underclassmen proving their worth and a few four-stars making their case to move up in the Rivals100 as well.

Woods trying to live up to the hype

The nation first got word about Seventh Woods from Rivals.com last last July.

The recruiting world, meanwhile, finally met the real Woods Saturday afternoon in Texas.

The consensus -- despite the meteoric rise to fame, the outlandish columns and the even more ridiculous user comments -- is that 14-year-old Woods is not the next LeBron James, nor the next Andrew Wiggins.

Rather, he's just a 2016 prospect with super athleticism and some high, high upside.

And for Woods, that's just fine right now.

"(The comparisons) are something I don't really think about," a humble Woods said after an hour-long game where he was under the thickest of media microscopes. "I just try to be me."

Being Seventh Woods hasn't been the easiest of things to do these days. Since the debut of his now-famous mixtape on YouTube last month, he's been noticed and recognized, prodded and scrutinized.

But he swears nothing's changed, and he's not out seeking any kind of fame from his video.

"When it came out, I didn't know it was going to get seven million hits," said Woods, a member of the 16U Carolina Wolves. "I didn't even know it came out. Somebody told me to go look at it and it was already at like a million hits, so it blew up from there."

Woods' video and his prodigious talents have been featured on just about every major sports outlet in the country. And that exposure came with some lofty tags. The next LeBron, the next Wiggins, the best 14-yeard-old ever -- Woods heard them all, even though he tried his hardest to not.

He stays away from Twitter and he rarely checks his Facebook page. He hardly knows about the legions of fans he has now from his Internet fame, too.

He's primarily focused on working on a game that can be special one day if he crafts it right.

"It doesn't get to my head," Woods said. "I just go out there and play ball and do the best I can do."

Woods -- who earned his unique name because "God created Earth on the seventh day," he said -- is almost hoping the notoriety goes away for a while. He understands there's work to be done, and he's not going to get there by having volume views on a grainy YouTube clip.

"I don't want it to get to my head," Woods said. "It's not going to get to my head anyway, but I just try not to think about it."

Making their case

Four-star 7-foot center Myles Turner made his case Friday night to move up in the Rivals100, and then backed that up again Saturday afternoon.

The big Texas Select center blocked shot after shot, dunked on several helpless defenders and even stroked a three-ball too. Afterward, he had the gym buzzing, and a leap in the rankings appears imminent.

Turner, though, wasn't the only one Saturday proving he deserves a raise. Team Thad point guard and Florida commit Chris Chiozza made his claim that he was underrated at No. 90 overall as well.

Showing off a sticky handle, a smooth jump shot and dogged defense, Chiozza outshined his five-star teammate Leron Black for most of the Under Armour Invitational's second day.

"I feel like (my game) is coming along real well, especially from last year," Chiozza said. "People didn't know I could score -- they thought I was just a pass defensive player and now I showed that I can score. I can do just about anything on the court. I've been working hard on every aspect of the game and it's really paid off."

The last prospect to really make a push Saturday morning was Turner's teammate, three-star shooting guard Nick Babb. The Texas Select combo guard was smooth all over the court, hitting three-pointers and picking passes on the defensive end of the floor.

He said high-major colleges have taken notice too, with Texas Tech his most recent offer and Arkansas close to coming with one as well.

Saturday tip-ins

Five-star combo guard Isaiah Whitehead, who's running with the Juice All-Stars this weekend, said nothing has changed with his recruitment. He still has a top 10 that features Arizona, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Rutgers, St. John's, Syracuse and UCLA. He's in the process of arranging visits to some of those programs in the next few months.

Dallas Showtyme made a surprising run Saturday, notably knocking off Louisville Magic and Louisville commitment Quentin Snider early in the afternoon. Showtyme's point guard, 2014 Kevin Booze, has been great so far this weekend, while his 2015 combo guard teammate Xavion Turnage has flashed as well.

Four-star 6-foot-9 power forward Quadri Moore has been one of the better big men in this weekend's invitational playing for Sports U Izod. A bully in the paint, Moore said he's waiting for his recruitment to pick up during the live evaluation period in July. Until then, he said he's receiving heavy interest from mainly Seton Hall, Wake Forest, Cincinnati, Temple and Iowa State.

Woods' Carolina Wolves teammate, 2015 forward Tevin Mack, said his latest interest is coming from Georgia. The 6-foot-5 wing has had a good spring so far, shooting the ball well and making plays inside the arc, too. Missouri, Georgia State, Clemson, Nevada and Houston are also heavily involved right now, he said.

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