Former Mississippi State standout Rodney Hood, the top transfer on the market this offseason, settled on a new school Saturday, choosing Duke over Ohio State.
As first reported here last month, Duke had emerged as the favorite to land Hood, who grew up a Duke fan but never received a scholarship offer from the program while in high school. The Meridian, Mississippi native made it official late Saturday night, joining an already deep group of wing players Duke has in tow for the 2013-14 season.
Hood must sit out the upcoming season in accordance with NCAA transfer rules and will have three years of eligibility remaining, beginning with the 2013-14 campaign. Hood, however, is expected to last just one year in Durham before moving on to the NBA, provided he lives up to lofty expectations during his redshirt sophomore season.
The trim, 6-foot-8 wing averaged 10 points and 4.8 rebounds as a freshman at Mississippi State. A versatile player with a silky smooth left-handed jumper, Hood brings much needed size and athleticism to a Duke team that, as presently situated, lacks a single player between the height of 6-foot-5 and 6-foot-7.
Hood is a jack-of-all-trades player whose versatility allows him to play multiple positions—anywhere from the 2 to the 4—for Coach K. Given Duke’s dearth of length and size in the backcourt—the Blue Devils featured the smallest backcourt in the ACC last season with 6-foot-1 point guard Tyler Thornton and 6-foot-2 combo guard Seth Curry—Hood will likely log most of his minutes at the 2-guard and the leftover time at wing forward.
With Curry set to graduate at the end of next season, Duke can restock the shelves with bigger, longer and more versatile talent beginning in 2013, upgrading from a 6-foot-2 shooting specialist to a well-rounded, 6-foot-8 physical specimen. That’s a huge boon to Mike Krzyzewski, who relishes flexible, multitalented players (read: Grant Hill, Shane Battier, Luol Deng, Kyle Singler). Singler had been the only such player Coach K has landed of that prototype since Deng left town after just one season (2003-04) in Durham.
The addition of Hood comes at just the right time for the Blue Devils. Ex-Duke swingman Mike Gbinije, another jack-of-all-trades type of the Hill, Battier, Deng mold, announced in April he is transferring to Syracuse. Gbinije had been tabbed as a potential stopgap solution for a Duke program in hot pursuit of another hybrid player. But after a freshman season in which he didn’t log the amount of time he thought he deserved—especially in light of Duke’s early-season defensive struggles and the lack of team size along the perimeter—the highly touted freshman jumped ship. Then Hood came on board to salvage the wreck.
After a minor drought since 2004, Coach K is back to landing the types of players that have made him a four-time national champ and the premiere coach in college basketball. The future is bright again in Durham, and that doesn’t bode well for the rest of the ACC.