It’s a new place and new role for Cayne Woodland. But it all comes back to familiarity.
C. Milton Wright boys basketball’s new senior point guard spent his freshman and sophomore seasons getting varsity minutes at Archbishop Curley. But when the players around him jumped ship, he transferred to Parkville.
That group, under two-time Baltimore County Coach of the Year Josh Czerski, was loaded with two-way talent and relentless scorers like Josiah Legree and Sincere Barfield. Woodland settled into a more natural pass-first starting point guard role, helping crown the Knights Class 4A state champions.
This past spring, Czerski left for the head spot at Loyola Blakefield. His players similarly dispersed. So again, Woodland was left searching for a new home.
He quickly picked C. Milton Wright and coach Mario Scott where he’s learning to take on a larger load as the top scoring option for the Mustangs, now 2-0 after downing Bo Manor, 84-37, Thursday night,
“The decision wasn’t really a basketball one,” Woodland said. “It was more of a family thing.”
His first coach was his father, Perry Woodland, who runs the AAU program Harford County United. By the time the younger Woodland hit sixth grade, Perry wanted to favor the role of Dad. So he entrusted his son with Scott, then a basketball trainer and AAU coach.
Cayne admitted that transition was rocky. It was something new after spending his entire basketball life playing for his dad. Scott remembers Cayne as a gritty kid who always played with an edge, often the smallest on the floor.
“He really helped me go from being a mediocre player to a good player,” Woodland said. “My eighth grade year during COVID, that summer we worked out every day. … I was supposed to play JV my freshman year but ended up starting on varsity. I would credit that to him.”
So when it was time for Woodland to find a new home, he opted for familiarity. But now at C. Milton Wright, Woodland can’t settle into the same pass-first point guard role.
Perry pushed back that it wasn’t much of a transition. Cayne has always had the ability to score, it just wasn’t necessary at Parkville. This new role is helping redefine his versatility on the floor –– his scoring in turn helps reinforce his dominant attribute.
As Perry said, “the producer becomes the rapper.”
Cayne has more than capable scorers around him like wing Larry Thompson, who poured in 16 on Wednesday night. Or Dylan Sander, one of Harford County’s top forwards who finished with 12 in three quarters against Bo Manor.
“I told the guys that were already here,” Scott said, “‘You won 18 games before he ever showed up. His addition doesn’t mean your subtraction. They’ve bought into it, I couldn’t be more enthusiastic.”
But Scott’s offense is bringing out the aggressive scorer inside Cayne –– albeit without losing his touch as a high IQ passer.
It didn’t take long for him to adjust. Woodland poured in 35 in his Mustangs debut defeating Bel Air earlier this week. His offensive output slowed down in game two, still finishing with a team-high 18. But his leadership capabilities and seamless fit were on full display.
When an underclassmen bluffed on defense, Woodland was first to remind him to seal the baseline, then gave an uplifting high-five. What’s more, on that end the Mustangs play a suffocating style. Woodland looks right at home jumping passing lanes and blanketing ball handlers who lost their dribble.
There’s no special treatment for the reigning state champ either. Scott didn’t think twice about yanking him for a missed assignment. Although two plays later it was evident the Mustangs needed their point guard back on the floor.
“What’s different in our team this year from last year,” Scott said, “is when it all breaks down, we have somebody who can really create and is still looking to make passes. If anything I’m asking him to shoot more. … But in terms of his leadership and floor general ability, he brings a lot of stability.”
What does that look like trading in Parkville yellow for Mustangs blue?
Woodland isn’t one to dribble the air out of the ball. He’s a quick decision maker. Against Bo Manor he found passing lanes that are hard to come by against any opponent. Woodland can knock down the deep ball and attack off the dribble, finishing through traffic on multiple trips down the floor.
Above all else, he draws significant attention with the ball in his hands, as his father said. Like when he drives downhill, a bit wide of the basket, three defenders collapse on him, freeing up the weak side for Woodland to zip a one-handed swing pass over to a shooter.
This is the new-look C. Milton Wright.
“I told him this,” Scott said. “At Parkville he was a critical piece but not the guy. Now you’re coming to be the guy. And that comes with a lot of responsibility.”