Duke forward Rodney Hood has declared for the 2014 NBA Draft, joining teammate Jabari Parker in jumping to the big leagues. The 6’8″ sophomore’s departure leaves the Blue Devils with a huge void in terms of scoring, as he was the second-leading scorer behind Parker on a team that won twenty-six games and finished third in the ACC.
Hood, 21, is a native of Meridian, MS and attended Meridian High School, where in his senior year he averaged 24.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, and 6.4 assists per game, and was named Mississippi’s Gatorade Player of the Year. As a top recruit, Rivals and Scout rated him a five-star prospect, while ESPN rated him a four-star prospect and the nation’s 31st ranked player. He was courted by Louisville, Florida State and Alabama, among others, but chose to stay in-state, beginning his college career with Mississippi State. Hood made the SEC all-freshman team in the 2011-12 season, averaging 10.3 ppg on 44.3 percent shooting, but decided to transfer to Duke after Mississippi State head man Rick Stansbury retired in 2012.
NCAA transfer rules forced Hood to sit out the entire 2012-13 season, but the versatile swingman broke out this past season and averaged 16.4 ppg on 47.0 percent from the field, while vastly improving his perimeter game to 42.1 percent from beyond the arc. Hood was a solid number two scoring option for the Blue Devils this season behind Parker. He reached double-figures in scoring in all but four games and scored twenty or more points eleven times on the season.
According to NBA draft analysis, Hood has all the physical makeup of NBA wing player and is expected to be a surefire first round pick. He’s long, athletic and fluid and has transformed himself from a player who struggled from the perimeter in his freshman year, to a player with legitimate deep three-point range. His mechanics, experts say, are unflappable and he can knock down jumpers from virtually any position, off the dribble or with his feet set. Hood converted 37 of 85 pull-up jumpers this season, ranking him first among NBA Draft hopefuls. He plays an unselfish brand of basketball and does well offensively in the half-court, according to draft pundits. He also has one of the lowest turnover rates in the entire draft class, as he gives the ball up just ten percent of the time.
Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski used Hood a lot in small ball line-ups this season, where his length and quickness at the power forward position often created matchup nightmares for defenders. According to a draft report, 32.5 percent of hiss offense in 2013-14 came from isolation plays and the pick and roll, which may or may not be a good thing. His ability to create his own shot will be a point of interest in the NBA and could be the difference between a smooth transition and a rough one.
As far as weaknesses, there aren’t many. Defense, per usual for a young NBA prospect, is one of Hood’s biggest concerns. According to critics, his lack of intensity on the defensive end of the floor reflects itself in his steals, blocks and rebounds, which all rank among the worst in the 2014 draft class.
Commentary by Rick Sarlat