The arrival of Rodney Hood for the Duke Blue Devils makes an already-talented squad even more athletic and dangerous entering the 2013-14 season.
Based on comments by other Duke players in a recent interview with Laura Keeley of the News & Observer, where Tyler Thornton called Hood the best player on the team, the 6’8” transfer from Mississippi State will have a major impact on the court this year in his first season as a Blue Devil.
Being the best player on the team is nothing new for Hood. In looking back at his high school career and scouting report, many experts predicted he would become a star at the college level.
During the recruiting rush for the class of 2011, Rodney Hood was a highly touted small forward from Meridian, Miss. As a high school senior, he averaged 24.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 6.4 assists, 3.1 steals and two blocks per game and was named the 2011 Gatorade Player of the Year in Mississippi.
His fantastic play earned him recognition by the major college basketball recruiting networks and interest from many major programs in the southeast. According to Rivals150, he received offers from Louisville, Florida State, Alabama and Mississippi State, and ultimately decided to play for the Bulldogs from his home state.
ESPN.com listed Hood as a 4-star prospect and the 31st-ranked player in the ESPN100 rankings while Rivals150 and Scout both rated him as a 5-star prospect.
Scouts were very high on Hood’s shooting ability and his knack for scoring from anywhere on the court, which was evident in ESPN Insider's (subscription required) evaluation of his strengths: “Hood can get on a role and knock down many deep jumpers in a row. Hood can spot up on the break, come off screens or space to the open area when penetration occurs. Hood is a match up nightmare on the perimeter because of his size and scoring ability."
Scout.com had a similar assessment of Hood, noting that his scoring ability gave him the potential to become a terrific player in college.
While he was known as a scorer, many noted that he needed to improve his ball-handling and strength to become a more complete player. At only 180 pounds coming out of high school, it was clear Hood would need to add weight to handle the more physical competition in college basketball.
During his freshman year at Mississippi State, he showed the potential that made him so impressive during his recruitment. He averaged 10 points and 4.8 rebounds per game while shooting over 36 percent from beyond the three-point line. His play also earned him a spot on the SEC All-Freshman team.
When he decided to transfer following his freshman season and ultimately made the decision to play for Mike Krzyzewski at Duke, Blue Devil fans became immediately excited about how Coach K would use such a dynamic player.
After having a year to practice with the team and work with the coaching staff, the 2013-14 season looks like it will be a breakout campaign for Hood. He was recently named one of the captains for the upcoming season and coaches have said the team will be built around Hood and Jabari Parker.
And for those recruiting analysts who predicted Hood would become a star—Duke fans are optimistic about that prediction this season.