Rodney Hood Update

Meridian High School's Rodney Hood is one of the premier high school basketball players in the country, ranked among the top 50 players in the nation by every major basketball ranking service. Gene's Page talked one-on-one with his dad, Ricky Hood, Monday afternoon about where Rodney currently stands with his recruitment.

How many schools do you believe have tried to get involved with Rodney's recruitment?
"Out of the major colleges, we are probably looking in the neighborhood of 30 schools to start with. Right now, I think he is down to about 5 or 6 that he is really interested in."

How did you guys whittle that large of a number down to 5 or 6?
"Part of it is the schools that he has sincere interest in. And I think the schools that really took the time to develop a relationship with him, his family and his coaches, was one of the determining factors early on. Then, as we got into the process this summer, more schools came onboard. But it was certain schools that we allowed in because we knew they had a track record of developing players and making them better.

"It hasn't been an easy process but I think Rodney's process was a lot easier than most kids because my wife and I played college basketball and my daughter is in college at UT-Chattanooga and I had an older son that played college ball. So, we are familiar with the process and haven't allowed the process to take over. We control the process."

You seem to have everything covered due to having dealt with almost everything that Rodney is going through?
"Well, we have it covered up to a point. But I think, because it is such a big decision, we have to take our time. And, for the most part, the coaches have been patient. Rodney really hasn't been involved in (the recruiting process) until August. Coaches were coming by for the last couple of years but he really wasn't involved then as he is now. And that's because we are near the end of the process due to him wanting to sign in November."

Where is he currently in the process? Is he simply taking unofficial visits right now?
"We've taken some unofficial visits. We've actually been taking unofficial visits for the last two or three years."

What schools have you guys unofficially visited of late?
"(Mississippi) State was our last unofficial. We did that last Thursday. Actually, he was there Thursday as well as the Memphis game. He was there for the Memphis game and the Auburn game. Of course, he has been to Florida State a couple of times. Georgia Tech a couple of times. He's been to Marquette a couple of times. Florida State, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State, Marquette have really, really been with him for awhile. And Alabama as well. He did his first official this past weekend at Alabama. Of course, he enjoyed it.

"Now, he's starting to whittle away his list. Louisville, Georgetown, UCLA, Ohio State and a few others are involved to a certain degree. And all of them have been here quite a few times, but they came on later in the process. So, right now, he is trying to cut that list down as much as possible."

You mentioned one official visit. Has he set up any other official visits?
"Yes, we'll be at Florida State this weekend and Georgia Tech the next weekend. We are going to wait and see if he takes the last two visits. We know Mississippi State so well we might not do an official there. Rodney has been going to that campus since 7th grade."

So, Mississippi State fans shouldn't panic if he doesn't take a visit there?
"Absolutely not, absolutely not, because we are not only very familiar with the campus due to Vickie and myself having attended State and played ball there, but Rodney has been on campus over the years. He goes every year for team camp and he has been to their camp. He knows that coaching staff better than any of the other coaching staffs, he knows the school better than any of the other schools because he's been there. His brother was recruited by Mississippi State. So, we are very, very familiar with (Mississippi) State. And, of course, we are proud for George Brooks, who is a good friend of ours, for taking the (assistant coaching) job up there. We know Mississippi State extremely well."

Going back to the official visits, what is Rodney trying to learn about the programs when he takes the official visits?
"On the unofficials you get a chance to see a little bit. For instance, we've been down to Florida State for a couple of unofficials but we have never witnessed how they conduct practice, or see where they live, those type of things. But on an unofficial visit he will get a chance to see what the social life is like. We have gone through the educational aspect of it with all of them and and been able to see what they do from that standpoint. And to be honest with you all of them have tremendous programs. Every one of those universities has a great educational component. As a matter of fact, Mississippi State is second to none of the programs that we have seen when it comes to their new educational facility. We were very impressed with that. So, we absolutely know that he is going to get a good education wherever he goes. And that is something that we demand and have always demanded.

"What we are looking for now is making sure the basketball is a fit for Rodney. He has said time and time again that he wants to be a basketball coach. All of those universities will fall in line in being able to help him as far as being a coach. But it has to be a good fit basketball-wise. And that fit starts with the head coach, his philosophy, his mentality, his offense and his style of play. If he's not happy with the basketball, then he's not going to be happy with the school."

You seem to really have a handle on the recruiting process.
"We don't let it control us. We know Rodney is going to be able to go through this process just one time. And I can't stress enough how important it is for the coaches to understand and the fans to understand that he only gets the chance to do this one time. There's no do over, so it's important that he takes his time and look at all the things that he needs to see before he makes a decision. He doesn't need to get emotional. We would have loved to have the process over as parents, but we have finished college, so it's time for him to do his thing. He could make a mistake in the process. A lot of people say you can't make a mistake with all those good schools, but I think you can if you aren't very careful."

Once he is through with his official visits is he going to make a decision soon after or will he wait and think about things and make a decision closer to signing day?
"He mentioned that he will wait until close to that time, but I don't think he is because I don't think he can put up with the phone calls and everything else. And we would want him to do it as soon as possible, mainly because we want him to enjoy his senior year of basketball and do something special with his high school team. His number one goal is for his team to win the state championship this year. He wants to focus on that. And for him to totally focus on that I think he needs to get this part out of the way."

Is he leaning to any one school over the others?
"Not really. And this is not in any kind of order. Florida State has pretty much been out front most of the time with Georgia Tech, then Alabama and Mississippi State. Mississippi State is right there with Georgia Tech, Marquette and Alabama. Then, of course, of the new schools that have come in he likes Louisville and he likes Georgetown because of Robert Kirby who has recruited him. But if he had a leader I would think it would be very close between those five schools; Florida State, Georgia Tech, Alabama, Mississippi State and Marquette.

"I do think he is closer (to a decision) than most people think because we are winding down. Coming from the Florida State visit will tell him a lot. He learned a lot from the Alabama visit and I think the (Florida State and Georgia Tech) visits will tell him a lot about where he needs to be and whether he needs to take the other two visits."

Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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