A few weeks ago, I cut my recruit-interviewing teeth with a Q&A with UK recruiting target Ryan Mossakowski, who had no idea what was in store for him when I asked him a few of these brain busters. Now, in what has become a
weekly monthly periodical installment on Kentucky Sports Radio, UK basketball commit for the class of 2009, Jon Hood, took some time to answer all of the questions that you likely never knew you wanted to know the answer to. Hold you ears before you read below because this interview will blow you mind…
KSR: First of all, your rankings have been all over the place this summer. You’ve risen and you’ve fallen and your ranking is a little different for each service that’s out there. What do you make of stuff like that and do you follow any of those rankings?
JH: I don’t really know anything about that stuff and how they rank the players so I don’t really know why they change so much. But, it is a lot of fun to see where they have you ranked and what they’re saying about your game. Really, it’s just putting a target on your back. Everytime you get ranked somewhere it puts that giant target on your back and people aim for you.
KSR: So, since you have that target on your back, how do you deal with the expectations? Especially being a Kentucky kid going to UK?
JH: It’s a lot of pressure. But, I thrive on pressure and I like it. I can handle it.
KSR: So, you’ve already committed to UK, but Coach Gillispie still made an in-home visit this week. What was that like?
JH: Well, it wasn’t really an in-home visit. It was at school. He was delayed a little getting back in town and he stopped by during lunch and we just talked a little bit. It was a little different since I’m already committed but we talked about a lot of the same stuff that we had been before I decided to go to UK. It wasn’t very long but it was a good talk.
KSR: What are your goals this year both individually and for your team?
JH: I’d like to be playing in Rupp before I’m suiting up for Kentucky. That’s our ultimate goal. We got a new coach and we lost 7 or 8 seniors so we have our work cut out for us. But, it’s definitely a goal that we’re aiming for – to get to state. As far as individual goals, they’re all associated with the team. If we win, I’m happy. If I go out and can’t hit anything or get to the line or get to the rim, I’m going to be upset with myself. But, if we win, that’s all that matters and I’ll leave with a smile.
KSR: What kind of relationship do you have with the players on the team already or the guys that are a part of your incoming class?
JH: I talk pretty regularly with the guys on the the team. I talk to them and I talk to the staff. They’re all a great group of guys and they’re great players. The coaches are great too, which is why I’m going there. I haven’t talked much to G.J. (Vilarino) lately but we were on the same team together at the summer camp and he’s a really good player. We got along while we were there, but I just haven’t talked to him much lately.
KSR: Ok, here’s a question that I think a lot of people would be interested to know your take. The NABC made a recommendation to prevent coaches from offering scholarships to players prior to their junior season. You didn’t commit until after your junior year, but do you think players should be allowed to accept scholarships prior to that?
JH: I think if a kid is good enough, then why not get it out of the way and accept a scholarship? Michael Avery is doing 360’s in warm-ups and he just started his freshman year. Vinny Zollo is 6’8″, 230 pounds. He’s a big guy and a big time player. I mean, I’m a player so I just play but the coaches are coaching and evaluating so if they think a player is deserving, then I think that they are. If a kid is good enough, then why not recruit him?
KSR: That seems to make sense to me. So who is the best player that you’ve played against?
JH: I’d say the best player overall is Courtney Lee. I played him when a buddy and I took a visit to Western. He’s amazingly athletic and shoots the lights out. As far as my class, the best player I’ve gone against is Lance Stephenson. And the best player from the ’08 class that I played was Scotty Hopson.
KSR: Ok, let’s get really serious here for a minute. I need an honest answer to this question. Your high school mascot is a “Maroon”. What in the world is that?
JH: Hahaha. I actually looked that up today for extra credit at school. It’s an old indian tribe that was in this area a long time ago and migrated away. But our mascot isn’t a maroon. It’s a mop.
KSR: A what?
JH: A mop.
KSR: Like M-O-P?
JH: Yeah. I mean, it’s not literally a mop. It’s just a costume that looks like a mop.
KSR: That’s not very intimidating. Don’t you think it should be something else? Like something fierce?
JH: I don’t think I could upgrade over a mop. A mop is pretty fierce.
KSR: Hmm. I’ll have to take your word for that, Jon. But, that does lead me to my next pressing question. Jorts. Are they acceptable for this younger hip-hop generation or are they still for embarrassing old white guys?
JH: Hahaha. You know I was in Lexington over the weekend and Josh (Harrellson) was wearing those famous jean shorts. He always wears jean shorts.
KSR: Yeah I’ve heard that he was “bringing ’em back”. So are you saying it’s acceptable then for young people?
JH: Hahaha. I guess so.
KSR: So, you may or may not remember when a certain KSR blogger made a post about one of your school videos. Can we count on any more endorsements this year?
JH: Hahaha. No endorsements. Definitely not. I’m done with that class. No more commercials from me.
KSR: On a similar note, Evan did an interview with you and stuggled to come up with a good nickname. You have anything for us? I mean “Jon Hood” must have a good nickname buried in there somewhere.
JH: I don’t really have a nickname.
KSR: Can we call you “Mop”?
KSR: Fine, suit yourself, Jon. Here’s one last question for you. You grew up a Kentucky fan so this should be pretty easy for you. If you could put yourself on any Kentucky team of the past, which one would it be?
JH: I’d have to say the ’98 team. To play with Jeff Sheppard, Cameron Mills, Scot Padgett, Allen Edwards. I’d definitely pick that team. But, what I’m really looking forward to is being a player on the 2009-2010 Kentucky basketball team. I can’t wait for that.
KSR: Well said, Jon. I appreciate the time, but work on that nickname. You know we aren’t creative enough to come up with one on our own and I think this interview pretty much proves who the intelligent, well-spoken one was on the phone line tonight. Best of luck this season and we’ll be checking in with you soon.