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Gordon Monson: Dante Exum and Rodney Hood — Who are these guys?



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Hood, we knew a little more about, having watched the 21-year-old play at Mississippi State and at Duke, alongside Jabari Parker. He was a great high school player out of Meridian, Miss., who scored points like a maniac and went on to make the All-SEC freshman team in 2012. Thereafter, he accomplished a rarity — it had only happened four times — by transferring to Duke. Mike Krzyzewski doesn’t take transfers, but he made an exception in Hood’s case because the kid, who sat out a year, could flat-out ball. Not only did Krzyzewski make an exception, he made Hood a team captain. The sophomore averaged 16 points, four boards and two assists in 2014, even as he subjugated his game to Parker’s.

He’s 6-8 and can straight-up dust the net from deep.

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On Friday, he, too, was poised and together.

"I’m a Southern guy," he said. "A guy who loves the game. A guy who’s going to come to work every day. A guy who can shoot the ball. A guy who wants to win."

Enter Vicky Hood, the player’s mom, who also happened to be his no-nonsense principal in grade school, junior high and high school.

"Rodney’s been a mother’s dream," she said. "He tries to do the right thing. Wherever he’s been, people have gravitated toward him. It’s because he’s genuine. He cares about other people. He is what you see in front of you. We always taught him that character is what you do when nobody is watching. And he’s humble. It’s in his spirit."

Added Rodney: "I couldn’t sleep last night. I just wanted to get here. ... I want to work hard and play ball."

Who are you guys? Who, who, who, who?

More complete answers will come in time. But first impressions were solid, rock solid. Now, about that other question: Can they play the NBA game?

GORDON MONSON hosts "The Big Show" with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM/1280 and 960 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.


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