On The Road: Jon Hood

Madisonville North Hopkins High School is a popular place to be for college coaches, as they are flocking to check out Jon Hood. We went "on the road" to see Hood up close and personal.

MADISONVILLE, Ky. -- Preseason workouts at Madisonville (Ky.) Madisonville North Hopkins have changed. The Maroons used to struggle to get enough guys to play 5-on-5, but with coaches rolling through the gym on a daily basis, attendance has picked up.

The main attraction is 6-foot-6, 180-pound Jon Hood. On Thursday, in front of Virginia assistant coach Drew Diener, Hood showed why so many other coaches had made the trip to the western part of Kentucky.

Throughout the pick up games Hood brought the ball up the court, showed a solid handle and a good-looking jump shot from deep. But where he excelled the most was with his mid-range game. He nailed a bunch of one and two-dribble pull-ups and also showed great court awareness and vision, as he consistently found the open man.

According to Madisonville North Hopkins head coach James Davis, that's Hood's normal game. "He's multi-talented and versatile in all areas. His biggest thing is he loves to win and he does what it takes to win. He's become a scorer, he can pass, and he's a great rebounder and a great leader. Whatever's best for the team, that's what he does."

Thus far, Hood has received visits from a trio of SEC head coaches. Billy Donovan was in to see him on Wednesday, Billy Gillispie made the trip last week and Dennis Felton has been in as well.

Virginia, Georgia Tech and Western Kentucky have also made recent trips. Next week should be a big one as well, as Duke, Kentucky and Mississippi are scheduled to stop by.

This time last year, Hood wasn't receiving this kind of attention. Actually, during the spring evaluation period Hood still wasn't a known commodity. But as the summer went on, interest picked up.

"It's funny how it changes so quick," Hood said. "Playing with the [Nashville] Celtics pretty much changed it all. There's a good group of guys that run it and a great group of guys that play."

"We have Drew Kelly on our team and a few other big name players. Scouts came to watch them and we made it far enough in tournaments where we would all get noticed."

The Real Deal on the Hill was one of the first events that Hood played with the Celtics. It took the talented wing a little time to get used to their style of play and he didn't play up to his level of expectations.

"In Arkansas, me and my dad like to say that I played like I did in high school last year," Hood said. "I just kind of drifted around the three-point line and I wasn't very physical and wasn't tough. I got my hand on a lot of balls, but I couldn't bring them down."

So what changed? Well, according to Hood his AAU coaches helped him toughen up and play with more intensity and aggressiveness.

"We had four or five practices and when you're banging with a bunch of older guys that are more physical than you are, then you have to get more physical to compete. Coach Waddey and Coach Henderson really like to push and they like to play a physical up tempo game and if I wanted to play, I had to do that."

Coaches noticed the change in his game and many started offering scholarships. Ole Miss, Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky have all stepped up with offers. The Wildcats also managed to set up an unofficial visit.

"I talked [Billy Gillispie] on the phone after he came and we had a good talk," Hood said. "He said that he wants me to come up to midnight madness and the LSU game the next day. I'm really excited about that."

According to Brian Hood, Jon's father, they are also planning to take unofficial visits to Duke and Florida during Jon's fall break. They've already visited Tennessee, Georgia, Mississippi and Western Kentucky.

Clearly Hood is taking the recruiting process seriously, as he's already started taking visits and examining schools. However, he likely won't make his college decision until this time next year.

"I'm just trying to take everything in," he said. "I have about the same interest with everybody, I'm just looking into everything."

Until decision time, Hood is just enjoying meeting the coaches, takings visits and finally getting to play 5-on-5 during open gym.


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