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Peyton Woods

Editor's note: This is the last in a series of weekly features profiling newcomers on the UTC men's basketball team, leading up to the Nov. 6 season opener against Covenant.

If he has as much as a second of open space, Peyton Woods will be expected to shoot the ball by his University of Tennessee at Chattanooga basketball coaches.

It's what he does best.

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Coach Matt McCall talks to Peyton Woods (10) as the UTC men's basketball team holds a scrimmage at Maclellan Gym in Chattanooga.
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The 6-foot-4 guard made 362 3-pointers in his high school career, which is No. 4 in Kentucky history. He's brought that shot as well as an all-out hustle mentality to the Mocs' team this season. He could fit into the team's rotation at some point due to his ability to knock down shots.

"He can shoot it, no question," UTC head coach Matt McCall said before the team's first scrimmage. "The biggest thing for Peyton is understanding that people know he's a shooter: Can you impact the game if the ball is not going in the basket? The physicality and the speed of the game is a major adjustment — at first he was shocked — but he's got better and made strides."

Woods was 0-for-6 from 3-point range in the Mocs' first scrimmage on Oct. 18 but followed that up by making 3 of his 5 attempts a week later when the team scrimmaged at Maclellan Gym.

"That's a gift of his," McCall said that day. "The biggest thing for him is that it's a confidence thing. He's got to continue to shoot, and he can't get down on himself when he misses a shot; he has to let the next one go. If he gets a crack, he has to shoot the ball because that's good for our team when the ball goes up in the air leaving his hands.

"As long as he's taking good ones, I'm all for it."

Figuring out how to get himself open against college competition was initially difficult for Woods, whose father Rodney still holds the single-season record for assists in a single season (227) at Tennessee.

"I couldn't get my shot off as quick as I needed to, or I wasn't able to get it off at all because I wasn't strong enough to get open," Woods said. "In high school, it was about how much I could score a game because it was what the team needed.

"Right now, I'm figuring out how I can help on the defensive end and how I can help the team by making hustle plays. That's my job when I'm not shooting 3s on this team."

Throughout the course of the scrimmages, McCall has been heard telling Woods to keep shooting. The freshman said that has been a great confidence booster for him.

"That's been big for me," Woods said. "I expected him to want me to shoot when I'm open, but he's telling me every chance I get to go after it.

"I didn't think he'd go that far; certainly not this year."

Contact Gene Henley at ghenley@timesfreepress.com. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.

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