STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi State's Rodney Hood has decided to transfer, meaning new coach Rick Ray will have to replace the team's entire starting five next season.
Hood was one of the Southeastern Conference's best freshmen this past season, averaging 10.3 points and 4.8 rebounds. The 6-foot-8 guard from Meridian, Miss., played in 32 games, starting 29.
Hood's departure is the latest blow for MSU's basketball program. Longtime Coach Rick Stansbury retired after 14 seasons in March, leaving Ray with a monumental rebuilding project. Renardo Sidney and Arnett Moultrie have also left in recent weeks to pursue professional careers.
"Obviously, we are disappointed in Rodney's decision," Ray said in a statement released by the university. "I was looking forward to getting a chance to develop and coach him. This decision, unfortunately, was made before my hire. The Hoods were forthright and honest about where they were when I met with them, and I appreciate their honesty."
While the Sidney and Moultrie departures were expected, Hood's decision was surprising. He grew up about 100 miles from campus and was viewed as the centerpiece of Ray's rebuilding effort. The new coach — who was hired on April 1 after two seasons as the associate head coach at Clemson — mentioned Hood by name during his opening press conference, describing him as "very important to our program."