Hood Eyes NBA Draft

By: From The Sun Herald
By: From The Sun Herald

Duke small forward Rodney Hood is the only player with Mississippi ties in the NBA Draft.

The Meridian native is projected as a late lottery pick on Thursday, going among the Top 15 selections.

Most mock drafts have Hood taken either 12th or 13th. The Minnesota Timberwolves and the Orlando Magic own the 12th and 13th selections. The Phoenix Suns and Chicago Bulls are also candidates to land Hood if he drops out of the lottery.

Hood, whose collegiate career began at Mississippi State two years ago, is confident in his skills. He was invited to the NBA Draft in New York and is expected to attend.

"I'm one of the best shooters in the NBA Draft," Hood told NBA.com. "I've got to go out and prove it. Just the fact that I'm 6-foot-8, I'm taller than a lot of guys at my position."

According to the NBA rookie wage scale for next season, Hood will earn a three-year, $5.4 million contract if picked in the late lottery.

Pro scouts are impressed with the unique shooting ability of Hood, who averaged 16 points a game and shot 43 percent from the three-point line. He's also a 81 percent free throw shooter.

"Teams continue to be enthralled with Hood's ability to score," said Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated. "He's a polished shooter who can make shots from all over the floor."

Hood, however, has two glaring weaknesses that could keep him out of the Top 10.

"He isn't a very strong defensive player, but he has the length and athleticism to improve if he works at it," Pro Basketball Talk Draft Expert Ed Isaacson wrote.

Added Mannix: "Ball handling is Hood's biggest weakness. If he can develop an off-the-dribble game, he could be unstoppable."

After leading Meridian to the Class 6A state title three years ago, Hood signed with MSU. He earned All-SEC freshman honors, averaging 10 points.

With the retirement of MSU coach Rick Stansbury, Hood transferred to Duke. He spent two seasons at Duke, including a year to sit out because of NCAA transfer rules.

Hood, 21, left the Blue Devils with two years of eligibility remaining.

"Rodney had two terrific years here at Duke,'' Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski said in a statement. "He was an integral part of our team two years ago because he was such a great practice player and this year he was one of the best players in the country. So consistent and a great young man on and off the court. He will do really well in the NBA."

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