Friday, October 26, 2012
Blue-White scrimmage marks unofficial return to action for UK junior Jon Hood
It wasn’t quite the NCAA Tournament, but the Blue-White scrimmage Wednesday still represented a major milestone in the UK career of junior guard Jon Hood.
The scrimmage marked Hood’s first appearance in a public full-length game since he saw one minute of action against North Carolina in the 2011 NCAA Tournament Elite Eight.
He missed all of the 2012 national championship season after tearing the ACL in one knee during a summer workout.
“It feels good to get out there and play, first and foremost,” Hood said after the scrimmage. “What I did on the court was good. I did good things, played within myself and everything like that and did what coach asked of me.”
Hood’s description of his performance was somewhat of an understatement.
He scored 17 points for the victorious Blue team, made up mostly of projected bench players. He also dished out five assists and grabbed three rebounds.
“That is the best he can play,” said UK head coach John Calipari. “He’s not listening to somebody tell him how to play. He knows what his game is now. He takes that seven-foot (shot). He’ll run and do things that he can do. He’s getting his legs back. I was happy for him.”
Hood, a 6-foot-7 guard, played multiple positions on the night alongside various combinations of smaller guards in junior Jarrod Polson, senior Julius Mays, senior Twany Beckham and sophomore Ryan Harrow and bigger forwards in sophomore Kyle Wiltjer, freshman Willie Cauley-Stein and freshman Nerlens Noel.
Jon Hood. (UK Athletics photo by Chet White)
After the game, Calipari said none of his players are ready to play a full college game yet, but Hood was one of nine Wildcats on the floor for all 40 minutes of the scrimmage.
“The knee is 100 percent,” he said. “It gets sore, but if any of you guys ran up and down the court for five minutes, your knees would be sore too. My knee, it’s perfectly fine.”
Hood made eight of 15 field goal attempts and was seven of 11 from inside the three-point arc.
In his career, Hood is seven of 30 (23.3 percent) from three-point range. He thinks he has figured out how to stick to his strengths.
“Playing smart, talking, taking guys through things playing good help-side defense, taking a few chances here and there,” he said. “It just depends on what it is, what it is that day and what’s asked of me. I’m going to try to do whatever it is.”
He repeatedly won one-on-one battles with at least one of the projected starters.
“Jon Hood had his way with Kyle (Wiltjer),” Calipari said.
The performance undoubtedly helped his mood, but Hood was not willing to lose the smile on his face regardless of how the night went. At one point, the white team went on a run and Polson looked at the smiling Hood and asked why he was so happy.
He answer was simple.
“Because I get to play,” he said. “Last year I was sitting on the bench watching you guys play.”