Hood Explains Choice

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Last updated: 07/02/2012 5:33 AM

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Basketball Recruiting
Hood Explains Decision to Pick Duke

By Brandon Castel

The Buckeyes were close. They were oh, so close.

For weeks, Ohio State fans waited anxiously as Rodney Hood took his visits. The Mississippi State transfer visited Florida State, he visited Memphis and visited Duke.

Thad Matta and his staff were hoping a trip to Columbus—and some time with former AAU teammate LaQuinton Ross—would sway the former 5-star prospect in Ohio State’s favor.

The Buckeyes got close.

They were right there in the 11th hour, going toe-to-toe with college basketball royalty, as the Blue Devils tried to yank Hood towards Durham, N.C. There were signs pointing to both sides, but in the end, Ohio State fans were forced to swallow a bitter pill when Hood ultimately decided to transfer to Duke on Saturday evening.

“I feel like coach (Mike Krzyzewski) and the staff can get the most out of me as a player and academically,” Hood told ESPN.com.

“I liked the teammates and felt like we have a good chance to compete for a championship.”

While the Buckeyes advanced to the Final Four in the 2012 NCAA Tournament under Matta, the No. 2-seeded Blue Devils were bounced in the opening round by 15-seed Lehigh University.

They lose star freshman Austin Rivers, along with senior center Miles Plumlee—both were taken in the first round of the 2012 NBA Draft—but the rest of the Duke team returns intact for next season.

Krzyzewski will also add a pair of McDonald’s All-Americans to the team in forward Amile Jefferson and two-guard Rasheed Sulaimon, who will be asked to replace Plumlee and Rivers, respectively.

The 6-8 swingman out of Meridian, Miss. averaged 10.3 points and 4.8 rebounds for Mississippi State this past season. He decided to transfer from his hometown school after head coach Rick Stansbury, who won a hotly-contested recruiting battle for Hood, retired in March.

Hood must sit out next season under NCAA transfer rules, but he will have three years of eligibility remaining when he suits up for Duke in 2013. It was Krzyzewski’s track record for developing talent that ultimately won Hood over in the end.

“He was pretty honest with me,” Hood told ESPN.com.

“He told me what he saw for my future. He was up front and he didn't just tell me anything. He was specific and to the point. He said he can make me a better basketball player and one of the best in the country. His track record speaks for itself. I could tell he believed in me as a player.”

With Hood out of the mix, the Buckeyes will have to go back to the drawing board for the class of 2013. Italian native Amedeo Della Valle was their only signee in the class of 2012, but Matta does have a verbal commitment from Toledo St. John’s forward Marc Loving for next year’s class.

Ohio State will lose senior Evan Ravenel after this coming season. They could also lose junior Deshaun Thomas, who considered leaving for the NBA after his sophomore season with the Buckeyes.

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