On Thursday, 6-foot-7 Meridian (Miss.) High wing Rodney Hood is set to have a big time crowd. Expected in the gym are Rick Pitino, Rick Stansbury, John Thompson and Leonard Hamilton. That, folks, is showing the love.
Pitino, like UCLA's Ben Howland, decided to invest time in Hood despite being late to the party. Hood's main schools – Alabama, Florida State, Georgia Tech and Marquette – have been on him a long time. UCLA, Ohio State and Louisville just want a chance to sit at the table and snatch one of his two remaining official visits.
Why is Hood so pivotal? Aside from his size, athletic ability and hoops IQ, he's a guy who wants to be a coach and understands the value of college basketball from a team perspective.
"He's a glue guy, he plays whatever position he needs to play," Ricky Hood, Rodney's father told Scout.com. "That's the true sign of a team player. He's willing to do whatever it takes for the team to win. I'm a firm believer that you play for the team on the front of the jersey not the back."
Hood visited Mississippi State unofficially last weekend. He's been to Marquette a few times. This coming weekend, Alabama hosts him on his initial official visit. Florida State is Sept. 18 and Georgia Tech the following weekend.
Simple math tells us Hood has two official visits remaining. Mississippi State may not need one. Georgetown, Louisville and UCLA must have one to land him.
"We're holding onto the last two official visits to see how things transpire. He's going to be an early signee and our goal is for him to sign in November."
Expect Hood to give a nod and wink to the schools that have been on him the longest and the ones he knows best. Four of them, including Marquette which he's seem twice, have the inside edge. "Florida State, Alabama and Georgia Tech over the last two years have been schools that he really likes. What's happened is that as his game expanded he wanted to take a look and see where the right fit is."
Ricky Hood played in college. So did his wife and they have an athletic family. This is not the Hood's first rodeo but it is the one and only time Rodney gets to navigate the process.
"I'm hoping somebody just blows him away but we don't want to rush the process because the relationships are so important. We don't want to prolong the process but Rodney gets a chance to do this once. You want to make sure you take your time and choose the right school. I think that's why he's been open to listening to a few of the schools that come on late.
"Ultimately, he's got to go to school. The best thing to do as parents is to get the information, put it in front of him and make sure he's looking at the right things. It has to be the right fit for him."
Rodney Hood and his family "get it." While the recruiting process ultimately is about him, the college experience is designed for most players to grow as people, get better and win. You get the sense that important to the Hood's and their son. Rodney Hood is a great looking prospect. He's ranked No. 49 in Scout.com's rankings but at day's end, if playing pro ball doesn't work out, a place is already in place for his future.
"The key part is Rodney wants to be a coach. He wants to coach and that's ultimately what he wants to do."
Ultimately, if that's what he wants to do, he will.