Rodney Hood

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How Rodney Hood used his redshirt year at Duke to transform into a NBA Draft prospect

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CHICAGO — Among 2014 NBA Draft prospects, Rodney Hood has the unique experience of being one of the few early entrants who transferred schools and had a redshirt year.

After Hood spent his freshman season at Mississippi State under former head coach Rick Stansbury in 2011-12, the native of Meridian, Mississippi opted to transfer to Duke and sit out a season before having a solid sophomore campaign in the ACC in 2013-14.

Most early entrants in the NBA Draft aren’t likely to transfer or take a redshirt year — required by NCAA rules for transfer students that don’t get granted a waiver — like Hood did, but the lefty wing told that transferring to Duke and sitting out a season before 2013-14 was the right move for him.

“The year I sat out was great for me. A lot of people back home say, ‘why did you do that? You could have been a star at State,’ but I wanted more for myself and sitting out gave me a chance to learn a lot from the seniors we had,” Hood said to “I learned a lot and got a lot stronger, stayed in the gym and it carried over to the next season because I think I had a really good season.”

Hood was good enough to earn 2012 All-SEC Freshman Team honors in his one and only season at Mississippi State, but the 6-foot-8 wing’s game took another leap after sitting out a year at Duke. Hood averaged 10.3 points, 4.8 rebounds and two assists per game for the Bulldogs, but saw his scoring average rise to 16.1 points per game at Duke last season while also tallying 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game.

Shooting percentages also skyrocketed for Hood at Duke. As a freshman, Rodney shot 44 percent from the field, 36 percent from the three-point line and 65 percent from the free-throw line. At Duke, those numbers increased to 46 percent from the field, 42 percent from three-point range and 80 percent from the free-throw line. The growth of Hood’s offensive game has put him in position to be a potential lottery pick in this year’s draft.

“My freshman year I was more of just a mid-range shooter. In the year off I really extended my range to the three-point line and I’ve really extended it now,” Hood said. “Mentally, it was tough. Just sitting out, knowing that you could be playing. But it was the right plan for me and I feel good about it.”

Also factoring into Hood’s improvement as a player was the demanding nature of the Duke coaching staff. Hood specifically cited former Duke assistant coach and new Marquette head coach Steve Wojciechowski as a major factor in his development.

“Coach Wojo is my guy. He coaches like he used to play back in the day. Fiery, passionate and whoever gets a chance to play for him at Marquette is going to have a great time because he loves the game and he knows the game,” Hood said.

After transferring into the program, Hood recalled when Wojo went off on him in a workout for going at his own pace. The experience helped show Hood how to handle things when going through practice.

“I had my first encounter [with Wojciechowski] the year I was sitting out,” Hood said. “The first workout when we had a game — the first game — and I came out there and I was shooting shots and kind of at my own pace and he slammed the ball down and went, ‘Hood! What the blank are you doing?’ and just went off and we’ve had a great relationship ever since then.”

Also receiving credit from Hood was Coach K’s style of play with Duke’s wings. The freedom that the Blue Devil offense gives talented wing players like Hood gives those wings a chance to flourish.

“Coach doesn’t put wing players in a box — and I consider Jabari a wing too. He allows me to post up, allows you to come off ball screens. If you can play, you can play; and that’s a reason I went to Duke,” Hood said.

Playing at Duke under an intense coaching staff in a league like the ACC has helped prepare Hood for the NBA Draft process as he goes through workouts and tries to answer some questions about his game.

“When I first got out there there was a lot of jitters. Now the jitters are gone once you get going and it’s great,” Hood said. “This is everybody’s [dream] journey and I’m fulfilling it now.”

Duke sophomore Rodney Hood officially entering 2014 NBA Draft

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One day after it was reported that he would be entering the 2014 NBA Draft, Duke redshirt sophomore Rodney Hood made the news official Friday afternoon via a press release from Duke.

Hood, who began his college career at Mississippi State, spent two seasons in Durham with the 2013-14 campaign being the only one in which he played. Hood averaged 16.1 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game this past season, earning second team All-ACC honors and helping lead the Blue Devils to 26 wins.

MOREThe entire list of players entering the 2014 NBA Draft

“Rodney had two terrific years here at Duke,” Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski said in the release. “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 and obviously he will always be a part of what we do and we wish him the best.”

Duke will lose two underclassmen, with freshman Jabari Parker making his decision to enter the NBA Draft on Thursday. But neither loss was an unexpected one for the Blue Devils, who add a talented recruiting class that includes center Jahlil Okafor and point guard Tyus Jones. Those newcomers, along with returnees such as Quinn Cook and Rasheed Sulaimon, are why many expect Duke to be a national title contender in 2014-15.

Report: Rodney Hood to enter the NBA Draft

Rodney Hood
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Rodney Hood will be entering the NBA Draft, according to a report from Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

This decision is not in the least bit surprising, as most have expected Hood to make this decision all along. After Duke’s loss to Mercer in the opening round of the NCAA tournament, Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski told reporters, in reference to Hood, “I wish we had him for more than one year.”

MOREThe entire list of players entering the 2014 NBA Draft

Hood averaged 16.3 points and 4.2 boards while shooting 40.8% from three on the season, which was actually his third year at the college level. He played at Mississippi State as a freshman, averaging 10.8 points, before transferring to Duke in the wake of Renardo Sidney’s tenure with the Bulldogs. Hood sat out the 2012-2013 season.

He is projected to be the No. 22 pick in the draft, according to Draft Express.

Duke will be just fine without Hood. They add a loaded recruiting class, headlined by Tyus Jones and Jahlil Okafor, and return guys like Rasheed Sulaimon, Amile Jefferson and Quinn Cook. They were No. 2 in our Way-Too-Early Preseason Top 25 with the assumption that Hood, and Jabari Parker, who declared for the draft today as well, were bound for the league.

Jabari Parker, Rodney Hood score 54 in No. 4 Duke’s win over No. 14 UNC

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Jabari Parker finished with 30 points and 11 rebounds and Rodney Hood chipped in with 24 points as No. 4 Duke bounced back from a loss at Wake Forest by beating No. 14 North Carolina 93-81 in Cameron Indoor Stadium on Saturday night.

It was a win that the Blue Devils really needed, but not because they had an ACC regular season title on the line or because it would be the difference between a No. 1 seed and a No. 2 seed.

Duke needed to right their ship. They were coming off of a loss at Wake Forest, which happened less than two weeks after blowing an 11-point lead at North Carolina. Duke needed to make a statement, and they did, jumping out to a 17-4 lead early and led by as much as 18 in the second half. The outcome was never really in doubt, which is saying something considering that North Carolina hadn’t lost a game since January 20th.

Perhaps the most impressive stat from this game is that the season’s final regular season game was the first game in ACC play that both Hood and Parker scored more than 20 points. As one of the nation’s most dangerous scoring duos, it’s wild to think that it took that long for both of them to catch fire in the same game.

RELATED: North Carolina’s rebounding a concern?

On the one hand, it’s a good sign for the Blue Devils. It’s proof that on the nights when those two are clicking, they can do things like snap North Carolina’s 12-game winning streak without much resistance. But should Duke fans be worried about the timing? Is it a red flag that the only time those two both went off in ACC play came in the sport’s most famous rivalry on national television in what is quite possibly the last game that either kid will play in Cameron?

I’m not sure.

What I do know is that Parker is playing as well as he has all season long. He posted double-doubles in his last six games and 10 of his final 13 games.

I also know that it was a mid-game defensive adjustment — switching to a zone — that sparked the game-changing runs in losses at Wake and at UNC, and on Saturday, UNC’s zone was largely ineffective.

If Parker is playing well, and if zones don’t give the Blue Devils fits, they’re pretty tough to beat.

Wake Forest beats No. 4 Duke as Blue Devils struggle to score again

Duke v Wake Forest
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Wake Forest has made a habit of giving top teams in the ACC a tough time in Winston-Salem, and that was no different for No. 4 Duke on Wednesday night.

The Blue Devils were down for most of the first half, entered the break trailing 36-33 and couldn’t seem to get any separation from the Demon Deacons until Jabari Parker’s dunk with 5:45 left on the clock. That put Duke up 66-59, their largest lead of the game.

And it was also apparently the spark Wake Forest needed for their finishing kick.

Parker would pick up two fouls in the next 36 seconds and Wake Forest would go on a 17-0 run over the next five minutes en route to an 82-72 win over the Blue Devils. It completed Wake’s home sweep over the teams in the triangle (UNC, Duke, N.C. State) and may be enough to get head coach Jeff Bzdelik one more year at the helm of the program.

For Duke, this is now the third ugly ACC loss they’ve suffered, dropping games at Wake, Notre Dame and Clemson. This is also the second time in recent weeks that they’ve had fits offensively when a team threw a zone at them.

This is what Duke’s offense produced on the ten possessions they had while Wake was on that 17-0 run:

  • Turnover
  • Turnover
  • Missed three
  • Turnover
  • Missed layup
  • Missed three
  • Missed three
  • Turnover
  • Missed three
  • Missed three

It sounds bad when you read it. It looked worse when you watched it. Duke simply cannot have lulls like that offensively, because they are not a good defensive basketball team. They’re better than they were in December — and they’re probably better than they were a month ago — but that doesn’t mean they’re Florida or Arizona.

The same thing happened down the stretch against North Carolina. It happened throughout the game in the losses to Clemson and Notre Dame. They have trouble getting the ball to the high post. They settle for threes, which isn’t a good thing when they shoot 6-for-27 from beyond the arc. They lose any and all ball movement. It’s just not what we expect out of this Duke team.

And it’s something that is going to have to be rectified in the next two weeks, because it’s going to be hard to trust the Blue Devils to make it through four straight tournament games without hitting one of those lulls.

No. 18 Pitt loses to No. 17 Duke, will enter February without a quality win

Duke v Pittsburgh

Pitt had a chance to notch themselves their first noteworthy victory of the season as they hosted No. 17 Duke on Monday evening.

Instead, the No. 18 Panthers were run off the floor in the second half, losing 80-65 in a game where Quinn Cook, Duke’s starting point guard, was slowed with an ankle injury. Lamar Patterson, who had entered the game looking like he deserved to be in the conversation for the National Player of the Year award, finished with 14 points, many of which came when the outcome was all-but decided, on 4-for-14 shooting and had just a single assist to go along with five turnovers. He was completely shutdown by Duke’s Rodney Hood.

Losing to a streaking Duke team, one that has now won their last five games by an average of just under 20 points, is hardly a “bad loss”. But it’s not a promising one, either. When the Panthers lost at Syracuse earlier this month, they stormed back on the road, taking a late lead before Tyler Ennis did Tyler Ennis things in the final two minutes.

There was hope after that loss. Pitt looked like they deserved to be in the conversation for best team in the ACC. That’s what happens when you lose in the final minutes on the road against the undisputed ACC favorite.

But this?

There is no way to spin this loss as a positive.

The Panthers were simply outclassed on Monday night, and while 40 minute’s worth of poor basketball is a tough way to judge the true ability of a team, the bottom-line is the eye-test is all we have when it comes to judging Pitt. They have not beaten anyone this season. Their best win right now? Pick one: Stanford, Clemson, at N.C. State, at Maryland. None of those teams are heading to the NCAA tournament this season barring a major late-season turnaround.

We went over this on Saturday. Barring a collapse, the Panthers are likely headed to the NCAA tournament. But they only have three games left against top 50 RPI opponents, four if you include North Carolina, who is currently 51st. UNC is the only one of those four games that is on the road.

Let’s assume, for arguments sake, that they lose at home to Syracuse but win out the rest of their league games and get beat by Duke in the ACC tournament. Pitt would have a record somewhere in the neighborhood of 28-5 with an NCAA tournament resume that is befitting of a mid-major conference champion.

That’s a problem.

Pitt is going to enter February without a single win over an NCAA tournament-caliber team.

They get Virginia on Sunday. Will that be the day they finally breakthrough?