Remember when team recruiting rankings were first dropping following the National Title game and everyone was shocked that several ACC teams were amongst the top-25 and none of them were named Duke? Yeah, about that. “All” they had back then was a commitment from the consensus No. 12 player in the nation (Rasheed Sulaimon). Then in May they grabbed the No. 21 player (Amile Jefferson), and now, six weeks later, they’ve landed arguably the most valuable transfer of the 2011-12 season. To be clear – Rodney Hood will have to sit out a season, but he’ll still be practicing with the team. He’ll be working out and getting stronger. He’ll be learning the system.
Hood’s commitment symbolically completes the downfall at Mississippi State. Hood is gone. Dee Bost and Brian Bryant graduated. Arnett Moultrie jumped to the NBA. Renardo Sidney is doing whatever Renardo Sidney does. All of that talent and the Bulldogs barely managed an 8-8 record in the SEC. So Hood is leaving that dysfunctional environment to enter a world of hoops royalty.
Hood is a 6-8 wing cut from the classic point-forward mold. His game, as proven this year as a freshman, is ready for big time college hoops. His body is not. Sitting out a year will allow the trainers to set him up on a different workout regimen which should enable him to more quickly reshape his body. If he can add 25 pounds of good weight without sacrificing any speed or flexibility then look out.
The reason he needs to bulk up is that he hit the wall this year. His offensive rating and true shooting % both declined late in the season.
Meanwhile, his possession % remained the same. So he was playing the same role, just not as effectively.
To really be a star with his skillset, he needs to be able to knock down the three. And he made over 36% of his attempts for the season, but again, his percentage went down late in the year.
It didn’t help that he was playing 78% of the team’s minutes. Still, the message is clear: get stronger. He’ll have a year to do that.
The rest of his game is solid, with the exception of free throws. He can score, but he’s not a slashing one-on-one player. He finds his spots, finds holes in the defense, and knocks down shots. He just never draws fouls. His free throw rate was pretty much non-existent. He attempted 287 shots and only went to the line 41 times. Andre Dawkins did a better job getting to the line.
The flip side is that he never commits fouls either. His 1.6/40 minutes would have been 3rd in the ACC. He also doesn’t turn the ball over. His 10.8 turnover rate would have been the best in the ACC.
Hood is a very talented player who still has easily identifiable holes in his game. But he’s a smart player. He’ll learn to be more aggressive. I expect that the player we see 16 months from now will be significantly advanced from the one we were watching in March.