For 27-year-old Blair Woods, basketball has been his life for as long as he can remember. From a passion shared with his father to his dreams of playing in the NBA, the love of the game has never left him. That’s the same passion he shares with youths he’s encountered in various sports camps and that he now puts into his own company - The Blair Woods Project. Through his company, he helps youth realize their dreams by teaching them the game, but also emphasizing the importance of a good education, relentless pursuit of goals and faith.
In April, the BWP held its first camp in Atlanta - The 25th Hour, to help players of all abilities develop athletically, refine fundamental basketball skills and enhance their skill set. Other camps that will be offered by the BWP include the Point Guard series, Inside Presence series, and Strength and Conditioning.
YBE had a chance to talk with Blair Woods, the founder of the BWP about his vision and challenges he’s faced in making it happen.
YBE: What made you decide this was what you wanted to do, as far as creating the BWP? Blair Woods: This company is pretty much my life played out. I started off as a sports agent and thought that was a good opportunity for me to mentor and guide young men trying to get in the industry. I want to help them make smart decisions for their futures. I really want to impact kids. You have to invest in them. By developing kids and showing them how to form good habits, they’ll teach other kids to form good habits. That’s how you’ll make generational change.
YBE: What was the idea behind the BWP? Woods: Coming to Atlanta and looking around at the basketball scene — listening to kids, playing ball with them, seeing how much they gravitate towards the game — I figured why can’t I cultivate this and correlate this to education? A lot of times, young kids just aren’t interested in school or it’s not cool to be smart. They don’t understand why they have to do this one thing in order to do what they want. But they’ll always make the time for the game.
Taking their love of basketball and applying that dedication, relentlessness and hard work to the classroom – that’s how the concept of the whole company came about.
YBE: How have you incorporated education into your camps?
Woods: A lot of kids learn in different ways. The best way the athletes learn is when you challenge them and then when you relate basketball to the classroom.
The main thing with athletes is that they do great on the court and work so hard on the court, but don’t necessarily qualify in the classroom. Or they get to college and are ill equipped for the academics. I want to build overall athletes – student athletes. I want to build the athlete from the inside out, and that starts and ends in the classroom. You can’t play in a school sport if you do not have the qualifications from being a student. So trying to put in as much effort and time into athletes on and off the court is really my main focus.
A lot of athletes are very smart, but they just need help with building good habits. I don’t think that we as leaders try to help them or stay with them long enough to develop those good habits. They’ll resist what we try to teach them or play around, but they will never ever play with basketball. They always want to get better. So if you tie education into what they love, then they’ll start to understand and learn and be better at it.
YBE: How did you get into basketball?
Woods: My father, Mike Woods, Jr. He introduced me to basketball when I was like 2 or 3. We really bonded over the Chicago Bulls, watching Michael Jordan play and wanting to be just like him. When I was 5 years old, I could tell you everything about the Bulls. I was obsessed with the Bulls, I was obsessed with getting better and just being the best that I could be. It helped that all my friends played basketball too. The way we built friendships was through basketball. If you were good, you were picked first or you’d get invited to birthday parties. You formed a lot of friendships through it. I had a really good basketball family. My father played baseball, but he was a huge basketball fan. And I just took to it too.
YBE: Did you ever have those dreams of being a professional basketball player? Woods: Of course! Man, that was the end goal, no matter what. I wanted to play for the Bulls. I wanted to go to [University of] North Carolina – Tarheels fan til I die. It was amazing just to have that goal. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to go to high school, be All-American, go to UNC and then leave to go to the NBA. I knew that when I was 10 or 11 years old that that was what I wanted to do.
YBE: How does the BWP prepare kids for basketball or for their futures? Woods: I knew what steps I wanted to take, but the question was how was I going to do that? And a lot of kids are just like me. They already know “I want to play at this college, I want to go
to this NBA team, I want to be in the league.” But what are the ACT scores you need to get into this school? What type of style does this coach play? How do you get noticed by the coach? What are the processes you need to get on that coach’s radar?
My company does that. We have a thing called “The College Draft Board” and what we do is have the kids pick their three top colleges and we break down the requirements for that school. What ACT/SAT schools do you need to get admitted? Who is the coach? We help them learn about the coach, the playing style and the team. So they understand fully how to get there and what they need to do.
I feel like giving these kids “the blueprint” is what they really need instead of saying “you can do whatever you want if you just believe.” We’re walking with these kids and guiding them to accomplish their goals. At the end of the day, we celebrate scholarships whether academically or athletically. It doesn’t matter. We want to get our kids in school to make them better NBA players, better businessmen, better CEOs or whatever they choose.
Basketball can literally change lives. It doesn’t mean that they’ll all be NBA players. I know that basketball changed my life so much to where I’m able to translate the work ethics I had with basketball into the business world. So it’s not just about playing the game.
Every kid who loves basketball wants to play in the NBA. The reality is they’re not all going to make it. You have to be very lucky, very blessed and have an extremely hard work ethic. But just because you don’t play in the NBA, doesn’t mean your basketball dream dies.
My basketball dream is still alive because I’m in basketball. Being able to get your education allows you to extend your basketball dream beyond just the NBA. Whether you find basketball in business as a sales person or find it in training programs.
A lot of times, kids are one-track minded and they only care about basketball on the court, and they don’t see how education can open up so many more doors for them off the court. If you want to work for an NBA team as a scout, as a coach, or as a journalist, that’s business. With the education that we push, we’re opening up the doors for a lot of kids to see that basketball is so much bigger than just playing.
YBE: What challenges did you have to overcome to get to where you are now? Woods: A lot. My biggest challenge would be learning how to do things myself. I had to learn that if I wanted this, I had to practice what I preach.
For example, I had to build my own website even though I didn’t know how to do it. I knew that if I didn’t have a website, people couldn’t understand my vision, people couldn’t sign up for camps. I wouldn’t get people to believe in me because people couldn’t see what I was doing.
So really, being able to invest in myself 110% with a daytime job and other obligations is difficult. I had to make sure that the site was built, that the proper partnerships were built. I needed to do what was necessary to make it happen. Nothing is given. When I learned that and that no one will help you unless you are able to show value, that’s when everything clicked for me. If you show value and show that you’re providing a service that people want, people will gravitate towards you and they’ll see your vision. Once you get people to believe in your vision, things begin to flow a lot easier.
Learn more about the Blair Woods Project by visiting bwpbasketball.com or on social media at: