Duke’s Hood Chomping at the Bit to Play After Year Off

UPDATED 6/28: Rodney Hood had to withdraw from the USA World University Games team due to an injury to his right Achilles tendon.

“I feel so sorry for Rodney,” said USA head coach  Bob McKillop of Davidson. “He committed himself fully to be a part of this team, and we will miss him. He would have been a valuable team member for USA Basketball.”

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Rodney Hood hasn’t played an organized basketball game since the end of the 2011-12 season, and now he’s chomping at the bit to play again.

The 6-foot-8 Duke sophomore will be eligible this coming season after sitting out last year following his transfer from Mississippi State. He averaged 10.0 points and 4.8 rebounds during his freshman season there.

“Man, I’m very excited,” the 6-foot-8 Hood told SNY.tv from Colorado Springs, Colo., where he is training with the USA World University Games team.

“As a competitor I wanted to play last year, but I didn’t get that opportunity and all I could do was try to make the best of it this year. I can’t wait and I know my teammates and the coaching staff can’t wait till I get out there. And I’m hungry.”

A Mississippi native, Hood practiced with Duke all of last year and was on campus this past month working out.

The Blue Devils lose big man Mason Plumlee, stretch four Ryan Kelly and shooter Seth Curry, but add Hood and prized recruit Jabari Parker as the main pieces of their incoming group.

“Oh, yeah, we’re going to be a lot more fast-paced, we’re going to get up and down, we’re going to press a little bit,” Hood said. “We’re going to try to speed the game up because we don’t really have a true big man other than Marshall [Plumlee] so we gotta get in people’s faces and deny the perimeter and make it an exciting game.”

A natural small forward, Hood said he can play “many positions at this level, so I’m just excited to be on the floor.”

Meantime, this is Hood’s first experience with USA Basketball and he’s excited to compete against more than 20 of the nation’s top college players.

“It would be great to make [the final cut], just to have ‘USA’ across your chest and play for your country,” Hood said. “It’s going to be great for me because I haven’t played games in a year, so I don’t want to come back in November and be rusty. I haven’t played the game in a year and a half so it will be great.”

The World University Games team is coached by Davidson’s Bob McKillop with assistants John Beilein of Michigan and Frank Martin of South Carolina.

They will trim the roster today (Wednesday) before heading to the competition in Kazan, Russia on July 3.

“Yeah, it will be crazy,” Hood said. “I’ve never been to Russia, I hear a lot about Russia but it’s going to be interesting to see what happens.”

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