COLUMN: Basketball needs consistency from Hood


UK guard Jon Hood, left, is guarded by guard John Wall during the first period of the Blue and White scrimmage at Rupp Arena Wednesday night. Photo by Zach Brake

Don’t forget about the one sophomore on the UK men’s basketball team.

His name is Jon Hood, he was Kentucky’s 2009 Mr. Basketball, and he was a conundrum wrapped inside an enigma at Tuesday’s Blue-White scrimmage at Rupp Arena.

As cliché as it may sound, he played with plenty of enthusiasm and energy, but his shots were not falling in the first half. Several of them, in fact, were spinning around or clanking against the rim, but they would not fall.

Clank, clank, clank and so on. The rim can be so unkind.

He started 0-for-10 before recording his first point with 7:38 left in the first half via a free throw.

Hood’s first basket, an emphatic dunk, came with 49 seconds left in the first half. Then, he opened the second half of the scrimmage with a 3-pointer that was all net.

It was as if, for mere snapshots in time, Hood was a completely different player capable of moments of brilliance.

Of course, one shouldn’t infer too much from a scrimmage, but what contributions the Cats should expect from Hood this season is anyone’s guess.

Will he evolve into a significant contributor? Or will he find himself in the same position he did in February, asking UK head coach John Calipari for more playing time?

He’ll certainly have more of an opportunity to earn playing time given the Cats have a short bench, but Hood’s performance in the scrimmage detracts from his cause. His scrimmage performance was the opposite of his excellent performances in the limited opportunities the public has seen him play.

At Big Blue Madness, he was arguably one of the best players on the floor and he showed some sharpshooting skills at the students and faculty only practice last week.

So perhaps consistency is the main ingredient lacking in Hood’s game.

Surely he expected more playing time as a freshman when he originally committed to the Billy Gillispie-led Cats, but soon after Calipari arrived in Lexington and lured top recruits DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall and Eric Bledsoe to town, Hood and the other Gillispie commitment, the higher-rated Daniel Orton, became afterthoughts.

Hood’s four other freshman counterparts from last season have since departed for the NBA, but Hood, who averaged 4.4 minutes and 1.2 points in 17 appearances last season in mop-up duty, has remained to see a new crop of talented freshman come to the Bluegrass.

These are the very same freshman who may take minutes away from Hood and limit his contribution the team as nothing more than a role player.

So, once again, the Madisonville, Ky., native is left fighting for playing time, he just needs to show that his first-half performance of the scrimmage won’t happen all the time.

It’s all about developing the consistency necessary to get on the floor and turn into the Hood capable of brilliance. The Jon Hood with the invisible “S” on his chest.

However, if Hood doesn’t develop consistency, he might see yet another class of talented freshman pass him by and next season, he’ll be the only junior on the team.

And he may be more easily forgettable.