PELHAM, Ala. | Yours truly got an up-close look at Mississippi State basketball signees Rodney Hood and Deville Smith tonight. The duo led Mississippi to an 85-74 win over Alabama in the annual, and aptly named, Mississippi/Alabama All-Star Game.
Hood looked to have team MVP honors wrapped up after a 16-point first half, but Daniel Grieves of St. Stanislaus caught fire and claimed that accolade, finishing with 21 points and making 5 of 9 from 3-point range. He hit four consecutive 3-pointers during one stretch as Mississippi rallied from a seven-point deficit.
The 6-foot-8 Hood, who led Meridian to the Class 6A state championship this season, wound up with 18 points on 7-of-21 shooting (2 of 8 from 3-point range). His first points of the second half came on a jumper at the 6:06 mark, giving Mississippi its largest lead to that point at 73-66.
When he wasn’t scoring, Hood did some good boardwork, totaling six rebounds. He also had three assists and was the primary ball-handler late in the game as Mississippi protected its lead; he was often what you might call a point forward for Meridian this year.
As for Smith, the Callaway product had 15 points and two assists. He used his quickness to get into the lane and to the free throw line, where he made 7 of 11. He can throw it down, too, as evidenced by a coast-to-coast two-handed dunk early in the second half. Smith also had a nice steal and layup with 4:37 to go to stretch Mississippi’s lead to 77-68.
For what it’s worth, Smith told me before the game that he’s been told by both MSU coach Rick Stansbury and current MSU point guard Dee Bost that he will take over point duties next season. And that jives with what I’ve heard elsewhere, so that’ll be interesting.
• On the girls side, Mississippi won 73-60 behind team MVP Kendra Grant of Richland. Grant, an MSU signee, scored 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting and grabbed five rebounds.