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Mizzou Hoops Player Preview: D’Moi Hodge

The Cleveland State transfer’s game is stripped down to the bare necessities: create turnovers, attack the rim, and bury open jumpers. It’s also an approach that can scale up for the Tigers.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: FEB 10 UIC at Cleveland State Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Over 13 installments, this series will dive deep into the 12 known scholarship players that make up the 2022-2023 Missouri basketball roster. Some installments might be more in-depth than others, if only because of the data and film available. In addition, evaluating players with multiple years of experience is more straightforward than younger peers.

The pieces read like a birds-eye scouting report. They skew more toward the offensive end of the court for two reasons. First, a player’s offensive metrics are more reliable than defensive data and less team-dependent. Second, it’s considerably easier to describe a player’s qualities with more well-known offensive statistics. As always, we encourage interaction from our readers. Please drop us a comment or find me on Twitter @DataMizzou.

The Player

D’Moi Hodge arrives at Mizzou as one of three former Cleveland State Vikings to follow coach Dennis Gates to Columbia. The wing began his career at the State College of Florida, where he started 63 games. As a freshman, Hodge averaged 19.3 points per game and followed that up with 25.2 points per game the next season. An all-conference and NJCAA All-Region pick, Hodge committed to CSU over offers from high-major suitors.

Hodge was plug-and-play, too. He started all but one game as a junior and racked up the fourth-highest share of minutes on a squad that claimed a share of the Horizon League’s regular-season title and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. In a breakout campaign last season, Hodge averaged 15.5 points per game, including three 30-point outings. He not only led the Vikings in scoring but was the Horizon’s Defensive Player of the Year and all-conference selection. This is his last season of eligibility.

The Numbers

D’Moi Hodge | Senior | Wing | 6-foot-4, 188 pounds

Year Team Min % Ortg Usage eFG% OR% DR% Ast% TO% FTR% FT% 2PT% 3PT%
Year Team Min % Ortg Usage eFG% OR% DR% Ast% TO% FTR% FT% 2PT% 3PT%
2022 CSU 71.0% 116.1 22.9 56.4 3.2 9.4 9.8 11.8 26.8 75.0 63.5 32.9
2021 CSU 60.8% 98.3 22.5 48.4 3.2 13.6 12.4 15.3 14.4 64.9 52.5 29.9

Hodge not only increased his output last season, but he boosted his efficiency in the process. He finished with a 56.4 effective field goal percentage, an 8-percentage-point boost, and an elite mark for a perimeter player. What spurred the improvement? It wasn’t 3-point shooting (Hodge remained average at 32.9% from deep). It turns out that shooting 63.5% inside the arc is pretty helpful. And he did so while keeping his usage rate steady at 22.5%.

Defensively, Hodge allowed 0.85 points per possession, which is close to the median for Division-I players. Flip on the film, though, and you see a long, rangy defender who excels at applying pressure on the ball or shooting gaps. The result: takeaways. Hodge’s 4.4% steal rate ranked 17th nationally, meaning he created many of the fastbreaks he finished. And Hodge’s athleticism also helped him finish with a 2.8% block rate, which is exceptional for a guard.

When we previewed fellow Viking Tre Gomillion, we spent a lot of time extolling his role as a flexible connector within CSU’s half-court offense. That is not Hodge. And it’s not a critique.

According to Synergy data, almost a third of Hodge’s possessions came in transition, and his efficiency ranked in the 74th percentile nationally. Another 49% of his touches came off the ball, spotting up (24.4%), cutting (15.3%), or coming off a screen (8.9%) in the half-court. And more than 62 percent of his made shots were assisted, per Pivot Analysis.

Loosely translated, Hodge isn’t going to demand or occupy the ball. Instead, he’s a ruthless finisher at the rim or shooting off the catch. The biggest stride Hodge made as a senior was improving the kind of jumper he put up. For example, almost two-thirds of his catch-and-shoots came with a hand in his face as a junior. Last season, though, it was closer to a 50-50 mix. It meant Hodge, who hit 40.5% of unguarded attempts, hoisted up 44 more wide-open tries.

If there’s an area of concern, it’s this: Is Hodge the player of 2021 or 2022? The optimist is working under the notion that Hodge continues to shoot 66.7 percent at the rim and almost 41 percent on open 3-balls — while transitioning to a high-major conference filled with more athletic defenders. However, suppose his shooting reverts to 2021 levels. In that case, scoring will be complicated for a player who makes a living outside the arc and inside the restricted area.

In either event, his defensive ability will allow for a safety net should those skills not translate or regress.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: MAR 07 Horizon League Tournament - Cleveland State v Wright State Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Role

Without question, Hodge is going to be in any 10-man rotation. And whether he starts might be irrelevant. He’s likely going to see significant minutes. At a minimum, he fits a defense that wants to extend and apply pressure. In addition, he rebounds well, a vital skill for a roster short on size along the frontline. And better still, Hodge has shown he can help turn defense into offense.

His exact fit is only known to Gates. On paper, it’s a crowded house at combo guard and wing. But if the Tigers opt to play small and push the pace, having Hodge around will be handy. I suspect he’ll get 20 to 24 minutes each night, putting him among the top four to six players on the roster. Like most up-transfers (going from a Low or Mid-Major to a High-Major), Hodge’s usage rate will likely experience a dip, but even if it’s at 20%, toeing the line between a critical cog and a complementary piece.

I can see Hodge putting up seven to nine points a night — with contingencies. Does his shooting stroke remain steady? Can he stay an above-average rim finisher against SEC interior defenders? And will Mizzou generate the same volume of transition opportunities?

SEC Basketball Tournament - Quarterfinals Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

I’ll be honest: it was a struggle to make a solid comparison. The best I could come up with is former Tiger Keion Bell. Like Hodge, Bell arrived at Mizzou from Pepperdine with one year of eligibility remaining. That season was arguably his best.

Bell played 59% of minutes and had a 20.4% usage rate, which roughly translates to a third option on the offensive end. That season, Bell took three out of four shots from point-blank range, and his efficiency on layups was in the 89th percentile nationally. Bell didn’t shoot the ball well (27.5%) outside the arc. But it hardly mattered, given how infrequently he put the ball up.

Otherwise, Bell and Hodge have eerily similar shot profiles. I would suspect Hodge’s touches will be a little higher, though. Unlike Bell, he’s not an understudy to Phil Pressey. Defensively, Bell, like Hodge, was athletic and adept at creating turnovers and posted similar rebounding rates.

The Film

There’s not much more to add to these snippets. Once Hodge gets into the open floor, you can see he’s a cut above the type of athlete populating most mid-major rosters. Two Horizon League coaches said as much. “He’s going to have no problem adjusting to the SEC,” Oakland coach Greg Kampe said. “Hodge is a high-major athlete.”

It’s only a matter of how often we see it on display in Columbia. There’s also an obvious temptation: put Sean East II at lead guard and slot Aidan Shaw at the wing. As noted in his preview, East excels at pushing the ball and finding his teammates in transition. Now imagine Hodge and a freshman with a 45-inch vertical sprinting the flanks.

Crazy, right? Not enough shooting, no? Well, what if East’s proficiency in early clock pull-ups translates? And Hodge’s catch-and-shoot stroke holds up? It’s not going to mothball Isiaih Mosley – at all. But it’s tempting to imagine five to 10 minutes a game where this team is fully committed to sieging the rim.

The beauty of Gates’ offense came from inverting the floor, lifting the defense, and creating space below the elbows. With savvy players who understood how to read defenders and each other, Hodge routinely got buckets this way. He’d see a defender drift toward the ball and fail to keep tabs using their peripheral vision. Poof. He was bolting along the baseline to a vacated short corner.

The same principle applies when playing in the slot, especially on the weak side of the floor. It’s natural for a help defender to drift and ball-watch, especially if he anticipates stunting to slow a driver in the middle of the floor. Hodge would deftly get buckets by using his burst on an angle cut. He could also work free when defenders tried to overplay him. Or, as we see in the final clip, Hodge understood how to cut vertically and curl off a screener at the elbow.

Simply understanding how to play off your teammates has immense value on any roster. But that’s especially true when Gomillion, Kobe Brown, Ronnie DeGray III, and Noah Carter can all facilitate from the elbow. It also creates opportunities for Hodge to find gaps and pockets of space if defenses rotate aggressively to slow down Mosley, who made good decisions as a passer when he wasn’t hunting buckets in PNRs.

No one will get dizzy watching Hodge run through a maze of screens, but he’s effective with the basics. For example, he can take a trailing defender into a down screen, get his feet planted, and get into his shot motion. Hodge also understands how to drift toward the corner or lift in hammer action. It also helps that his shot pocket is relatively high, and he’s economical getting into his release.

Last season, Hodge sank 33.3% of his spot-up jumpers. That’s smack dab in the middle for Division-I players. The same goes for open spot-ups. His 35.1% clip is in the 52nd percentile nationally, per Synergy data.

Yet Mizzou’s often lacked anything close to a reliable floor spacer in recent seasons. Now it’s conceivable that Hodge, an average shooter, would be the worst option in a backcourt alongside Mosley and Nick Honor. The fifth-year senior is proficient enough to help keep some semblance of floor spacing, which has been a rare sight in Columbia recently.

Min %: This is simply the percentage of minutes played by a given player.
Usage %: A measure of personal possessions used while player is on the court. This includes making a shot, missing a shot coupled with a defensive rebound and a turnover.
eFG%: Same as traditional FG% with the added bonus of 3-point shots given 50% more weight to account for additional point.
OR%: The percentage of possible offensive rebounds a player gets.
DR%: The percentage of possible defensive rebounds a player gets.
AST%: Assists divided by field goals made by player’s teammates while on the court.
TO%: The percentage of personal possessions a player uses on turnovers.
FTR%: A rate which measures a player’s ability to get to the free throw line.
FT%: Free Throw shooting percentage.
2PT%: 2-point field goal percentage.
3PT% 3-point field goal percentage.