Charlotte Hornets

NBA draft: Duke’s Rodney Hood, Clemson’s K.J. McDaniels frequent sparring partners

If these pre-draft workouts with NBA teams serve no other purpose, they’ve pretty much guaranteed Duke’s Rodney Hood and Clemson’s K.J. McDaniels know everything about each other’s game.

They matched up last season in the ACC, then were constantly paired in workouts on the thinking McDaniels was sure to challenge Hood defensively. Tuesday was the last of those sessions, with both back for second looks with the Charlotte Hornets at Time Warner Cable Arena.

Hood’s first workout with the Hornets was cut short when he fell ill. The team rescheduled him, and asked McDaniels to come back, too.

Both indicated they’ve benefited from all these sparring sessions.

“It went great. My last one. Real competitive,” Hood said. “Seems like me and K.J. always work out together.”

To which McDaniels added, “I feel like it went better the second time than the first time because it was better competition – guarding Rodney Hood. We’ve been matched up a lot, going back to the season. It definitely (motivates) both of us.”

Hood is a viable candidate for the Hornets’ No. 9 pick in Thursday night’s draft. McDaniels could come into play when the Hornets use the No. 24 pick. This was McDaniels’ 12th workout, the only call-back he’s had. Hood said he also worked out twice for the Phoenix Suns, who pick 14th and 18th.

Hood, a 6-foot-8 sophomore, averaged 16.1 points on 46 percent from the field and 42 percent from the 3-point line. Hood said he wanted to show the Hornets he isn’t just a 3-point specialist.

“That I can score the ball, I’m not just a shooter,” Hood said. “Today we did a lot in the mid-post. I know I can shoot the ball. I wanted to show them I could put the ball on the floor and defend.”

Hood benefits from being left-handed because it tends to throw off defenders closing out on him along the perimeter. He said he’s studied some great lefties – Manu Ginobili and James Harden, for instance – to see how best to exploit that.

Hood said he doesn’t believe his illness last time in Charlotte was related to the nausea he suffered during his one season at Duke.

“It didn’t happen anywhere else” during a workout, Hood said. “Just watching what I eat. I haven’t had that problem since the season, and when I did, it wasn’t really a problem.”

McDaniels, a 6-6 junior, averaged 17.1 points last season on 46 percent from the field and 30 percent from 3-point range. He knows his shooting range must improve, but he feels he can build a pro career on defense.

“Defense wins games,” McDaniels said. “Just go in with that defensive mindset and the offense will work out.”

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