DURHAM — DURHAM In effect, Duke traded Michael Gbinije for Rodney Hood this offseason.
When Gbinije decided in April to transfer to Syracuse, Duke’s coaching staff began looking into the transfer market for replacements. They zeroed in on Mississippi State small forward Rodney Hood, who committed to the Blue Devils late last week.
After the requisite paperwork was completed, the Blue Devils announced Hood’s addition Thursday. Hood averaged 10 points and 4.8 rebounds his freshman season, shooting 36 percent for 3-pointers. Gbinije, by comparison, averaged 1.7 points and 0.8 rebounds per game.
Duke assistant coach Chris Collins said the program didn’t think of pursuing Hood until Gbinije opted to transfer.
“We’ve always taken transfers when we’ve lost people unexpectedly,” Collins said. “With … Michael Gbinije moving on, that’s where it opened the position for a guy like Rodney to come in and have a big impact right away.”
Duke will have to wait until 2013-14 to see what kind of effect Hood has, but there is reason for optimism.
He is a tall, athletic wing the team lacked last year, when opponents often exploited the Blue Devils’ lack of size on the perimeter.
By the 2013-14 season, Duke figures to have Hood, Alex Murphy and Amile Jefferson in the regular rotation. All three are 6-8 and able to defend taller wing players, although Jefferson figures to spend most of his time at power forward.
“We felt like last year we had a good team, but we were pretty locked in; we had three guys in the post, and then we had smaller guards,” Collins said. “We didn’t have a whole lot of those in-between versatile guys that allow you to do different things on both ends of the court and put different kinds of lineups on the floor. That was something we tried to do is add to our versatility.
“With Alex and Amile, eventually now Rodney, you’ve got three guys in that 6-foot-8 mold who are very skilled players, and it gives you a chance to do different things. You can go big, you can go small; you can do different things defensively.”
Hood started looking outside Mississippi State when former coach Rick Stansbury retired in March. He also considered Ohio State, Memphis and Florida State.
A look at his highlight tape reveals a player who can slash and shoot beyond the 3-point line and a step or two inside it. He made the all-freshmen SEC team.
“We recruited him to be an impact player,” Collins said. “He’s got a very smooth game – very skilled, great feel. He can pass, he can finish, he can score. Talking to people in their league, they felt like he was a super-talented guy who had a chance to be a big-time player as he got older and got stronger.”
His commitment completes a productive offseason for Duke.
While there was considerable hand-wringing when Gbinije transferred, Andre Dawkins redshirted and recruits Tony Parker and Shabazz Muhammad chose UCLA, Duke closed strong by landing Jefferson and Hood.
Next year, the Blue Devils figure to have a rotation of Quinn Cook and Tyler Thornton at point guard, Seth Curry and Rasheed Sulaimon at shooting guard, Alex Murphy and Josh Hairston at small forward, and Mason Plumlee, Ryan Kelly, Jefferson and Marshall Plumlee up front.
After Mason Plumlee, Kelly and Curry graduate, Hood and shooting guard commitment Matt Jones will join the roster in 2013-14 along with other recruits. Assuming Dawkins redshirts the upcoming season as Coach Mike Krzyzewski said he would, Dawkins would also re-join the team for the 2013-14 season.
“We’re really excited about our future. We feel like this coming year, getting the final piece of Amile – we feel like all 10 of the guys we’re going to have can play,” Collins said.
“… We feel like we have a chance to be very good. There’s a great excitement in guys working hard. It’s been a good spring and summer. Hopefully we can carry that into the fall as we get going with the season.”