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Antwone Woolfolk: Former football recruit turned Division I basketball player

Freshman forward Antwone Woolfolk went from a multi-sport athlete in high school to one of head coach Steve Pikiell's top recruits in the Class of 2022. – Photo by

With the Rutgers men’s basketball season just around the corner, there are some new additions to the team that we will be seeing on the court starting November 7. Among those names includes freshman forward Antwone Woolfolk, who is getting ready for his first winter playing for the Scarlet Knights.

The Cleveland native is a part of head coach Steve Pikiell’s 2022 recruiting class which also includes forward Antonio Chol and guard Derek Simpson.

A two-sport athlete in high school, Woolfolk went into his senior year considering offers to play not only basketball but also collegiate football as well. Football scholarship offers came from Boston College, Cincinnati, Akron and Marshall for the young athlete.

Ultimately, Woolfolk decided to go the basketball route. After receiving reported basketball offers from Cal State Bakersfield and Cleveland State, he ultimately felt that Rutgers was the best fit for him. 

“It was just a gut feeling. On my official visit, it felt like home. So I just decided to commit,” Woolfolk said while speaking to The Daily Targum at the team’s annual media day on October 14.

An interesting thing about the 6-foot-9-inch forward is that for most of his high school career, he was really considered a football player and was much more highly regarded in terms of football rather than basketball. 

Woolfolk talked about how the adjustment has been from being a high school athlete to a Division I basketball player.

“At the beginning, it was (about) getting in shape,” Woolfolk said. “I used to freeze up with screen coverages. Stuff was happening so fast. But it's just adjusting to that and learning from the older guys and just taking what they tell me and applying it to the game.”

Only shortly before he signed with the Knights did he really consider playing basketball at the next level, but having the experience as a tight end for as long as he did has helped to improve his game on the court. Woolfolk noted that being a football player has helped develop his defensive game in basketball, giving him some valuable assets. 

“Just knowing how to use my body and being physical … making contact first — that's really it,” Woolfolk said.

While attending Charles F. Brush High School in Lyndhurst, Ohio, Woolfolk averaged 10.7 points and 10.3 rebounds per game in his junior year. He was flanked by fellow Division I basketball signee Elmore James in a 15-7 campaign last season.

His size is another obvious advantage that helps elevate his play. Standing at 6-feet-9-inches and weighing 250 pounds, he was dominant on the high school stage. 

While Woolfolk is young and there is plenty of work ahead of him, he is a great addition to this Rutgers team. He is a skilled player that can help lift the Knights and is an animated and exciting player that is ready to be on the court and doing his job.

“(I play) a little gritty. I’m chasing every rebound,” Woolfolk said. “I want to play defense — I don't want anybody scoring.” 

Woolfolk also mentioned that he is a very skilled passer, which has the opportunity to open up a lot of opportunities for the Rutgers offense.

Pikiell and his staff have a lot of faith in Woolfolk and believe he will be a truly impactful player for the Knights this season. 

“He has an ability to score around the basketball with some terrific ball-handling and passing skills. I think he has a chance to be a very special front court player for Rutgers nation,” Pikiell said

Woolfolk will get his first taste of Rutgers fans and the electricity that rings through Jersey Mike's Arena on Livingston campus when the basketball team opens its season on November 7 against Columbia. 

For more updates on the Rutgers men's basketball team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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