In today's Daily Journal, I take a look at MSU basketball signee Rodney Hood, the Meridian star who's expected to jump into the starting lineup next season. He's got the talent to do so, having averaged 24 points and 8 rebounds per game while leading the Wildcats to the Class 6A state title this past season.
Hood is 6-foot-8, can handle the ball and can shoot it from deep, among other things. He could help the Bulldogs have a great season in 2011-12.
But as I wrote in the story, Hood brings more to the table than his skill set. He brings the kind of attitude that didn't exactly dominate the team dynamic last season, and Hood is determined that he and his fellow signees, D.J. Gardner and Deville Smith, are going to help MSU restore its good name.
"Next year on the court, we're going to bring a new attitude – me, Deville and D.J.," Hood said. "Sid (Renardo Sidney) is coming back, so that's a big plus. I think we're going to have a chance to be one of the top teams in the country."
As has been well-documented, here and elsewhere, MSU had a rough go of it both on and off the court, more so off it. Hood watched from a distance like the rest of us as Sidney brawled in Hawaii and Ravern Johnson dropped some Twitter bombs. Hood said he didn't speak with any MSU coaches or players about the incidents and is eager to leave all that in the past.
Hood, Gardner and Smith talk all the time about what they can bring to MSU, and that phrase "new attitude" pops up again.
"We're trying to bring a new attitude, a new work ethic, and just a new demeanor to the team, something that we didn't see this year," Hood said.
OK, but what qualifies Hood to say such things? Just ask his friends. Hood is a straight arrow type, a guy whose pants don't sag and who takes his classwork seriously.
"He's a role model, I would say that," said Smith.
Hood is a natural-born leader – you can hear that when he talks. He sounds a bit like a coach sometimes when speaking about the Bulldogs and what's possible. He sounds like someone who truly wants to – and will – help the program.
"At the end of the day, we'll get that right," he said. "We've got a good group of kids, and we'll be fine."