Coming off a weekend where everyone is talking about a young man named Meeks, I cant help but talk about a Kentucky star of the future, Jon Hood. Coming into this weekend, I had seen Hood play a number of times. I have always liked his game and believed him to be an important part of Kentucky’s future. But after focusing on Hood for two straight games at the King of the Bluegrass Tournament at Fairdale, I am now ready to say that Hood has the potential to be special. There are certain parts of Jon’s game that you know…..he can put points on the board en masse, scoring 35 in one game and 36 in the next. He has deceptive athletic ability, using his leaping ability to get shots off over defenders, even when covered. However what makes Hood special is that these dont represent the totality of his abilities. Jon is also a great rebounder, solid defender and a player who has the ability to do something that so few great players truly are capable of….make those around him better. Its no secret that Hood’s team is not very good….but he finds a way to make them competitive, at times against vastly better competition, all by elevating his game by elevating those around him.
When you watch Hood, the first thing many try to do is to compare him to other Kentucky high school players of the past. That isnt an easy task. For there hasnt been a player like Hood from Kentucky in some time. Because of his shooting ability, many want to compare him to Kentucky high school talents like Richie Farmer, Josh Carrier, JP Blevins, etc. However none of those guys possessed Hood’s athletic ability or his size. Because he is a big guy that can shoot, the name Scott Padgett comes up, however Hood is able to take guys off the dribble far better than Scott could do at the same stage of his career. Some want to analogize him to Rex because of his athleticism, but in actuality Rex wasnt the passer or defender that Jon is at this point (although he may have been a better scorer). No, Hood at his size and with his ability, is really unlike any player that I can point to in recent Kentucky history. His game reminds me a bit of Mike Dunleavy Jr in college and more than one college coach I have spoken to has used the name Kyle Singler in comparing Hood’s ability. His shooting touch and ability to score in traffic actually gives me a little throwback to Walter McCarty (although I dont think he can sing like the big guy). In short, he is the perfect college player….he will make the team better from his first day on campus and he will be a matchup problem for anyone that attempts to guard him. If his defense continues to improve (and it has improved exponentially just in the past year), he has the potential to be in that Tayshaun/Bogans/Meeks type category of a guy who is a great college player and will stay four years….in short, the perfect guy for your team. If you have seen him before, you know what I am talking about. But if you havent, get ready. Hood is the real deal and you are going to love him.
To the news…..
(1): So we had the big game this weekend, but the crowd in Louisville wasnt great. Only 10,000 or so were there and Freedom Hall was empty in both endzones. There are many reasons for this, ranging from the Christmas season to the lack of a quality opponent to fairly high ticket prices. But regardless of all these reasons, Saturday’s game may have sealed the deal for the Louisville game for the near future. In today’s world, where every game is on television and the internet allows for constant access to your team, moving a game to Louisville for the fans is not as unique as it once was. Thus unless the team is willing to make tickets dirt cheap (so that poor fans can go who never go usually) or schedule a quality opponent, the game simplt will not do well attendance wise. For understandable reasons, UK is likely to do neither (although I do wish they would have one game with 5 dollar ticket prices open to the public….but that is dreaming). While UK folks will continue to say in public that there is no danger, I worry that the Louisville game may be on its last legs. I hope I am wrong however, because being a Louisville resident, seeing the Blue take over this town is a great, great thing.
(2): Couple more notes on Jodie Meeks amazing 46 point game. It was the most points by any player in the SEC since 1990, when Shaquille O Neal went for 53 in a game. And Meeks is one of only 4 players to go for over 40 points in my lifetime (joining Goose, Tayshaun and Dinner Bell Mel Turpin). Just an amazing day that people should not soon forget.
(3): A lot of talk about the lack of play by Jorts on Saturday. Billy Clyde could not have been more explicit in the postgame when he said that “19 out of 20 players had the best 2 days of practice” that he has seen at Kentucky. That obviously was a message to Josh Harrellson, as was his comment about Lou Gherig taking a spot and not giving it up. Jorts is a hard worker and I was surprised to hear that it was a lack of quality practice that caused the decision to play AJ Stewart more and Harrellson less. As with all playing time issues with Gillispie, I am sure the situation is fluid, but for UK’s sake, lets hope that he gets his head in gear…..the Cats are better (and more versatile) when Harrellson is an option on the interior.
(4): Some good news about another UK recruit. Dakotah Euton had a big game in South Carolina this weekend, going for 26 points against a good Spartanburg team. Euton will be back playing in the area over the holidays, as will other UK recruits and targets. Jon Hood, Vinny Zollo and Lexington Catholic’s Vee Sanford will all be in the Lexington Catholic holiday tournament beginning the day after Christmas. I always love that event and will be there again this year.
We got a big day today…..Rob gets us ready for the Liberty Bowl approaching, Bobby Perry will talk about Jodie Meeks’ performance and we start getting ready for Monday night’s showdown with Tennessee State…..stay tuned….