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All Mississippi State freshman Rodney Hood seems to want for Christmas is a basketball in his hands and somewhere to shoot it.
Being able to do that during the holiday break from school is what Hood loves the most about this time of year.
"I can come in at any part of the day, get into the gym and work out," Hood said. "There are no exams and no class."
Maybe that love for the game is why he's off to such a good start with the Bulldogs this season.
After 12 games, Hood has emerged as the second-leading scorer and third-best rebounder for a Mississippi State team that's ranked 18th by The Associated Press with a record of 11-1.
Hood believes he has now gotten into a groove.
"Early in the season, I was just trying to find my way, but I'm coming into my own now," Hood said.
Hood and the Bulldogs are in Jackson for a game against Northwestern State tonight. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. at the Mississippi Coliseum.
There are some fond memories for Hood at the Big House as he led the Meridian Wildcats to the Class 6A State Championship earlier this year.
The Starkville Yellowjackets also took a title from Hood and the Wildcats the previous season so his thoughts about the building are not all positive.
"I have mixed feelings," Hood said. "I won one there and lost one there. It's going to be kind of like going back home and it will be fun for me."
Hood has family and friends in the Jackson area and expects many of them to attend tonight's game. He is looking forward to seeing some former AAU teammates and his brother there.
It's Hood's brother, Ricky Hood Jr., where he patterns his mid-range game.
"I've just watched my brother play," Rodney Hood said. "Me and my dad work on mid-range jumper and we didn't focus on taking 3-pointers or half-court shots so much."
Hood was the first true freshman to start on opening day for the Bulldogs since Dee Bost in 2008-09.
He has started all 12 games and averages 12.5 points and 5.2 rebounds per outing. There have been only three games to this point where Hood has failed to score in double figures.
In the last home game against Florida Atlantic, Hood got his first career double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds.
"The guy can dribble, pass it and shoot it at 6-foot-8," MSU coach Rick Stansbury said about Hood.
Just because he enjoys having a few days off from class during Christmas doesn't mean Hood dislikes the academic side of college. He just made the Dean's list so academics is very important to him.
"It's always stressed by my parents that basketball can only take you so far and you have to have something to fall back on," Hood said.
Some freshmen would have a problem fitting in with the likes of Dee Bost, Renardo Sidney and Arnett Moultrie around, but not Hood.
Hood is content with adding to what Bost, Sidney and Moultrie can do.
"It's better for me because I don't have to waste energy," Hood said. "I knew with Dee and Renardo coming back, I'd be taking a lesser role. I just want to come in, play hard, be an extra playmaker and an extra scoring threat."
Bost considers Hood a big impact as a freshman and adds much.
"He's a big impact freshman. He is not just a shooter, he can do a lot things with the basketball."