NEW YORK — I’ve known Pitt point guard Tray Woodall for six years, dating back to his time at St. Anthony and a team that won a mythical national championship in 2008 under Hall of Fame coach Bob Hurley.
So it was tough to watch the 5-foot-11 Brooklyn native suffer through groin and abdominal injuries last season that caused him to miss 11 games, during which Pitt suffered through a seven-game losing streak.
Woodall still managed to average 11.7 points and 6.1 assists, which would have ranked him third on the Big East leaderboard if he had played enough games to qualify.
But as he enters his senior season, Woodall told me during this sit-down video interview last week at Big East Media Day that he’s healthy and ready to go.
“I’m feeling great,” he said. “I had two sports hernias. I tore my lower ab. But I had successful surgery this summer. I’ve been working our really hard. My rehab has been going great. I’m back on the court, and I’m 100 percent playing with the guys.”
Woodall was named Preseason Big East Honorable Mention and the Panthers were picked to finish sixth in this, their last year in the Big East before moving to the ACC.
Woodall will have some new teammates this year to add to a core that includes senior forward Dante Taylor, junior forwards Talib Zanna, Lamar Patterson and J.J. Moore and sophomore guard Cam Wright.
Steven Adams is a 7-foot freshman from New Zealand who was named Big East Preseason Player of the Year.
“Steve is great,” Woodall said. “He could become a great player. He has got a great feel for the game. He’s a mature kid, it shows on the court. He has great patience in the post, and he has a great feel for the game. He has great touch on the basketball. He can shoot the 15-to 17 foot shot. I’ve seen him knock down a bunch of threes, and he’s just a great talent to have on our team.”
Pitt also adds 6-5 Central Michigan transfer Trey Zeigler, who averaged 16 points last season and is eligible immediately.
“Trey brings that Brad Wanamaker type of feel back to the game,” Woodall said. “He’s a creator. He’s not as much of a shooter as Ashton [Gibbs] was. He’s a creator.”
Woodall also likes former DeMatha Catholic standout James Robinson, a 6-3 freshman guard who Woodall says will surprise some people.
“He’s picking up everything really fast,” Woodall said.
Pitt also brings in freshman guard Chris Jones, a former star at Teaneck (N.J.) High.
“My goal every year is to win everything,” Woodall said. “I think that’s always been our team goal.”