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WARDLAW COLUMN: Hood continues work with MSU

May 3, 2012

Wardlaw

Three weeks ago Mississippi State basketball was dealt a significant blow when freshman Rodney Hood announced he would request his release in an effort to find a new home to play his college basketball.

Since that time, Hood has remained an MSU student and continued to go to class, doing the things that are expected of him as a college student.
MSU head coach Rick Ray has moved on as well, preparing for life without Hood as the leader of the team.

What may come as a surprise to many is the fact that Hood has continued working with the current Bulldogs.

In the days following Hood’s announcement Ray was clear with the current players in saying they should get in the gym and play as much basketball as they could. At the same time, he suggested they call Hood encouraging him to join them because they all needed the work and obviously having Hood on the court would increase the level of competition.

Ray could have certainly held a grudge against Hood for jumping ship early into his tenure as the head coach. However, Ray wanted what was best for his team and for Hood and that was to get shots up and continuing to improve.

While the intended result wasn’t necessarily to retain Hood, the workouts have allowed Hood to see inside Ray’s program and hear first hand accounts from Jalen Steele and Wendell Lewis of what things are really about with Ray.

Let’s be honest, the outlook for MSU basketball is drastically different today than it was three weeks ago when Hood made his decision. At that point, he was the best player on the team and while Steele and Lewis remained, there just wasn’t much help in sight for Hood.

Now, Ray has added a pair of guards (Jacoby Davis and Andre Applewhite) and a junior college forward (Colin Borchert) that drastically changed the look and feel of this team. State could also land another point guard this week to truly create a situation to where Hood could see himself as the missing piece to the puzzle.

No question Hood has a world of opportunities at his feet. However, given the changes within MSU basketball, a case can be made that Mississippi State is still the best fit for Hood.

There isn’t a hard timetable for Hood to make a decision on where he will play next season because there are no deadlines for transfers make their move. However, July would be a time when Mississippi State would send a non-renewal letter for his scholarship offer, since that’s a year-to-year agreement.

Michael Wardlaw is the Mississippi State beat writer and columnist for the Starkville Daily News. The opinions in this column are his and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Daily News or its staff.

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