Mississippi State didn't always lead for Rodney Hood, but it finished first on the day it mattered most. Hood, No. 30 in the ESPNU 100, committed to the Bulldogs over Louisville and Florida State on Wednesday.
Hood (Meridian, Miss./Meridian) is a 6-foot-7 swingman who was outstanding last summer with his traveling team. A versatile wing who can pass, handle and shoot, he became a priority recruit for a number of programs in his region and nationally. Mississippi State wanted badly to keep him home.
"The thing that hit home was that they missed on some great players that went pro," Ricky Hood said. "From Monta Ellis to Travis Outlaw, they've told him that he could come in and be the face of their program."
Allegiance played a significant role in Hood's decision. His parents, immediate family and friends have always supported and attended his games. There was a loyalty to them in addition to the pull his father said he felt from being the state's top player.
"He said why not Mississippi State?" Ricky Hood said. "The best players in Alabama go to Alabama. The best players in Louisiana go to LSU. Why shouldn't the best player in Mississippi consider Mississippi State?"
Hood isn't going to Starkville alone. His AAU teammate from MBA Hoops, point guard Deville Smith, will also sign next month with Rick Stansbury's program.
Dave Telep is the senior basketball recruiting analyst for ESPN.com. His college basketball scouting service is used by more than 225 colleges and numerous NBA teams. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.