D'Moi I Watch, D'Moi I Like: Projecting D'Moi Hodge
FEATURING: Missouri's Talented Guard, D'Moi Hodge | INCLUDING: Some Notes from my Recent Scouting Trip
D’Moi I Watch, D’Moi I Like
Most of the top players have been discussed at this point of the season. There are names that are locked into first round territory already, but there are also names that are teetering between the lines of the two rounds. History tells us that there will be a few names mentioned as sleepers, as well as those that will be meteoric risers that “no one has talked about.” That line is preposterous at face value—especially to those that follow draft classes year-round. However, if you are either young or have children, you know that hyperbole runs rampant within today’s vocabulary. For example, my son will use the word “literally” in a sentence, immediately followed by the word “like”—or some other word that suggests an approximate rather than an absolute.
The same idea applies to the line that people within the draft community use consistently, “no one is talking about”. Of course someone has talked about them, it just may not have reached “the consensus” or “the casual” out there. And that is OK. I often have to remind myself that not everyone who enjoys basketball dives as deep into this one particular niche that has become my favorite part of the basketball life cycle. Some people—maybe, hopefully, some of you readers—enjoy reading about prospects that they may not otherwise have the time to watch. Maybe they prefer the NBA to college hoops. Perhaps they work behind the scenes within the game of basketball, and their work requires them to focus on another niche. Whatever the case may be, for all of us to grow within our knowledge and understanding of the game, it takes all of us to do our part.
The featured prospect in today’s piece is D’Moi Hodge of Missouri. While there are people who are aware of this player, he has not been as heavily discussed within the larger portions of the draft community. While his name has been mentioned behind closed doors at No Ceilings, he has yet to be mentioned as a player to look out for. While this takes him out of the category for “first round locks” or the “teetering prospects” in the class, there is still plenty of time for Hodge to ascend from “sleeper” to “riser” in this draft.
D’Moi Hodge has had to fight and scratch and claw to find his way into Division I basketball. From playing high school basketball at Faith Baptist Christian Academy, D’Moi went on to play for State College of Florida in his first season of post-high school hoops. Averaging over 19 PPG and receiving multiple Player of the Week awards, Hodge played another season for State College of Florida during his sophomore year. His PPG jumped to 25.2, he shot 37% from deep on over 100 attempts, he averaged 5.1 APG, and he nabbed 2.7 SPG. D’Moi was named to the FSCAA All-State team, along with the NJCAA All-Region VIII team. Having displayed a talent that was too much to be contained at the NJCAA level—and being named the 11th-best JUCO prospect in a class that included Jay Scrubb and Keon Ellis—D’Moi would look to make a jump to a higher level of competition.
Hodge decided to enroll at Cleveland State in the Horizon League. He would make a significant impact for the Vikings during his first season, averaging 10.5 PPG, 3.7 RPG, 1.5 APG, 1.7 SPG, and 0.7 BPG. D’Moi posted shooting splits of 40/29/64. The efficiency wasn’t there yet, but the total effort Hodge played with was a sign that he could be a major contributor at the D-I level. In his fourth year playing ball, Hodge would show marked improvement. In the 2021-2022 season, he logged 15.4 PPG, 3.1 RPG, 1.4 APG, 2.2 SPG, and 0.8 BPG. The efficiency rose as well, as his splits climbed to 48/33/75. Having shown that he was capable of improving at multiple levels of competition, D’Moi would take another jump. But he wouldn’t go alone.
The Missouri Tigers would make a coaching change after the 2021-2022 season. An opening at the head coach position was filled by none other than Dennis Gates. Gates just so happened to coach the Cleveland State Vikings and, more importantly, D’Moi Hodge. Hodge entered the transfer portal and would be re-recruited by Coach Gates. The 2021-2022 Horizon Defensive Player of the year and All-Horizon team member would join a Missouri team that fit him in both personality and style of play. The Tigers have enjoyed their best season (in terms of winning percentage) since the 2011-2012 season when they played in the Big 12. Hodge has been a big reason why.
D’Moi is quietly having one of the most impressive seasons this year, in terms of impact on winning and statistical production. The two-way guard prospect is among the most efficient offensive players, as well as one of the most impactful defensive playmakers in college hoops. When you look at his numbers relative to his peers—which, for this article, we’ll only look at briefly—he is on a short list of prospects that have logged the numbers he has. Take a look at this.
Minutes Percentage: At least 70
BPM: At least 8
Offensive Rating: At least 120
Usage Percentage: At least 20
Effective Field Goal Percentage: At least 60
True Shooting Percentage: At least 60
Among players that meet those criteria, Hodge is on a list of three players. Steven Ashworth is an undersized, mid-major guard that isn’t likely to get significant attention from NBA front offices due to their size and level of competition. The other is Zach Edey, who has received varying levels of attention throughout the draft cycle. Although D’Moi is 6’4, the fact that he shows the same level of efficiency as one of the more talented and larger players is a nice feather in his cap. Let’s take a look at how he compares with some other metrics.
Minutes Percentage: At least 70
Block Percentage: At least 2.5
Steals Percentage: At least 5
This is a list that is exclusive to D’Moi. On top of that, he’s shooting over 40% from distance.
It is at this point that we will diverge from comparisons to his collegiate peers, and we will now look at how D’Moi compares to current NBA players. This is important, as Hodge is listed at 6’4” and isn’t considered to be a lead guard. Playing without the ball at his height transforms the threshold he has to clear in order to have a real chance to level up. The names we’ll take a look at are Gabe Vincent, Cory Joseph, De’Anthony Melton, and Patrick Beverly. But, before we do that, we’ll establish Hodge’s full numerical impact as the baseline.
Minutes Percentage: 70.3
Offensive Rating: 1123.9
Usage Percentage: 20.0
Effective Field Goal Percentage: 60.5
True Shooting Percentage: 61.8
Offensive Rebound Percentage: 2.8
Defensive Rebound Percentage: 12.4
Assist Percentage: 10.9
Turnover Percentage: 7.7
Block Percentage: 2.5
Steals Percentage: 5.2
Free Throw Rate: 21.0
2 Point Percentage: 60.6
3 Point Percentage: 40.3
In Gabe Vincent’s senior season, we saw some very similar things in his output in relation to what we are seeing in D’Moi Hodge. In terms of physical stature, Vincent is currently listed at 6’3” and 200 pounds. Hodge is listed as an inch taller but about 20 pounds lighter. It’s worth noting Vincent was listed at 190 pounds his senior season, so it’s possible we see D’Moi catch up. At UC Santa Barbara, during his drafted season, Vincent averaged 12.4 PPG, 1.9 RPG, 3.3 APG, 1.1 SPG, 0.2 BPG, with shooting splits of 45/37/80. Vincent was more capable as an offensive player, having the ability to moved the ball around more reliably as an on-ball creator. His 20.9% Assist Percentage far-and-away exceeds Hodge’s 11.0%. Though Vincent had a larger Minutes Percentage and Usage Percentage (75.6% and 20.8%), D’Moi grades higher in BPM, Effective Field Goal Percentage, True Shooting Percentage, Offensive Rebound Percentage, Defensive Rebound Percentage, Turnover Percentage, Block Percentage, Steals Percentage, two-point percentage, three-point percentage, and far more dunks. Offense has been at a premium, which has led to players like Vincent getting more opportunities. With Hodge showing he can space the floor and be a dog defensively, the path to him having an opportunity similar to Vincent is in the cards.
After his one-and-done season at Texas, Cory Joseph has enjoyed a long NBA career playing for five different franchises—even being a part of a championship team with the Spurs. Though having a three-point percentage over 40% on 3.5 attempts per game as a Longhorn, Cory has averaged a percentage under 35% as a pro. Another 6’3”, 185-pound player in college, Joseph is now at around 200 pounds. This has helped him find a ton of success as a guard defender. Cory found himself having a Minutes Percentage of 80.0%, but had a lower Usage Percentage than D’Moi (16.8% for Cory, 20.0% for Hodge). The free-throw rate at 22.7 is almost a mirror image to D’Moi, who is at 21.0. Hodge has better Effective Field Goal and True Shooting percentages, and a better two-point percentage. Though Cory has the edge from deep in their final seasons at their respective universities, Joseph had a small sample as a Freshman. This is more tantalizing for front offices. D’Moi is shooting over 39% from distance—his best shooting season in D-I ever—but he’s already +24 on three-point makes with more games to go. Hodge could be very similar to Joseph, carving out a spot on NBA teams due to his steady point-of-attack defense, while also offering more efficient scoring.
This comparison is a little more lofty, as Melton has been a reliable role player on a couple good NBA teams. Melton’s on-ball juice has substantially more pulp. What Melton did at USC as a Freshman was quite impressive to look at in retrospect. What’s surprising is that De’Anthony had a smaller Minutes Percentage and Usage Percentage to our guy, D’Moi. Oh, and was behind what Hodge is doing on the offensive efficiency metrics. But, Melton’s ability to serve as a combo guard with more passing vision was what separated him on offense compared to Hodge. Melton’s athleticism led to him having a Block percentage of 3.9% (+1.4% to D’Moi) and a Steals Percentage of 4.1% (-1.0% to D’Moi). Melton finished his season with 18 dunks on the year, which is likely to be ahead of where Hodge finishes. D’Moi just doesn’t have the same level of handle or athleticism compared to De’Anthony, so that will be a hard threshold to clear. With Melton being 6’4” and 190 pounds in college, Hodge stands a chance to be a pesky defender at the next level, should he add the requisite strength it appears that he could.
Out of the University of Arkansas, Patrick Beverley was listed at 6’1” and 180 pounds. Pat Bev had a massive Minutes Percentage at 84.2%, but he is yet another example of an off-guard with a low Usage Percentage at 18.4%. Though he has earned a reputation as a defender in the NBA, Beverley had a lower Steals and Block Percentage (1.5% and 2.1%, respectively) during his drafted season than what we’ve seen from D’Moi. Beverly did have a knack for getting to the free-throw line, posting a 40.0 free-throw rate—significantly higher than what Hodge has done. The shooting from deep was solid for Beverley (37.8%), D’Moi has been more efficient on +22 attempts thus far. Beverley’s development as one of the more prominent point of attack defenders over the past several seasons in the NBA wasn’t anything teams were counting on when he declared, but it shows that players can develop outside of the expected age curve. Having not played in the NBA until age 24, Beverley offers a bit of hope as to how D’Moi could impact the game as an upperclassman.
As we looked at earlier, D’Moi isn’t going to carve out a role as an on-the-ball type of player. He’ll thrive alongside more ball-dominant players, as he can serve as a floor spacer with some connective ability to his game. On offense, Hodge grades out in the 96th percentile (Excellent) overall—scoring 1.156 points per possession on 365 total possessions. In transition, Hodge ranks in the 87th Percentile (Excellent) while grading out in the 92nd percentile (Excellent) within the halfcourt. Among players with a minutes percentage of at least 70% in college basketball, D’Moi is 62nd in True Shooting Percentage and is 33rd in Effective Field Goal Percentage. He also is 27th in Offensive Rating.
Hodge is one of the better shooters within this class, despite it being somewhat limited in terms of how he can deploy it. D’Moi grades out in the 88th percentile (Excellent) in spot-up opportunities—shooting 45-of-113, per Synergy. On all jump shots, he is in the 90th percentile (Excellent). While shooting off the catch, he ranks in the 85th percentile (Excellent)—77th percentile (Very Good) on guarded catch-and-shoot attempts, and in the 80th percentile (Very Good) when unguarded. That’s on good volume too.
On this clip, we see D’Moi running baseline—off of a screen set by teammate, Kobe Brown (#24). DeAndre Gholston (#4) hits Hodge as he curls off the screen. Hodge’s run off the baseline was followed by Nick Honor (#10), who trails Hodge to get to the corner. Hodge hits Honor, who then passes the ball to Brown on the block. Georgia doubles Brown on the block (something they did the majority of the game. More to come on that later). D’Moi’s initial off-ball activity gives the defense a false sense of security, as the help sinks in too deep. Being a solid passer while being pressured, Brown hits Hodge, who confidently steps into the shot. The range is NBA-level and the ball finds its way at the bottom of the net.
D’Moi’s shot it a things a beauty. The motion is super repeatable, the base is sturdy, and the release is pretty snappy. All of his mechanics are picturesque.
On this possession, Missouri is bringing the ball up the floor in transition off of a defensive rebound. The Tigers pushed the break and got the ball to Mohamed Diarra (#0) with deep interior positioning. Georgia’s defense collapses around the 6’10 junior, leaving Hodge open. The Bulldogs do a decent job recovering to D’Moi in the left corner, as Jabri Abdur-Rahim (#1) is able to get into reasonable distance to challenge the shot, but it has no effect. D’Moi sends it home with relative ease.
Notice where the pass comes from. The defense implodes to the deep position—something that is likely to happen in the NBA, as star players typically establish some sort of interior presence. That leaves players open; they just have to capitalize. Hodge has shown the ability to make open and contested shots for Missouri, and there are no signs showing that couldn’t continue.
The off-ball stuff with Hodge has been mainly focused around his shooting, but that isn’t all that there is. We see Diarra get the ball on the left wing. Diarra immediately gets the ball to his right hand and goes to the paint. Shakeel Moore (#3) gets stepped by off a nice first step from the big man, and stays on his hip. The defense doesn’t do anything too negatively to recover, but Diarra is given a lane to dribble toward the opposite wing on an escape maneuver. Hodge is stationed in the right corner at first, but makes a timely dive on the baseline and the defense is focused on Diarra dribbling straight across the floor. The pass is timed nicely, and D’Moi is able to get a nice layup on deep position.
On his total cuts on the season, Hodge has 34 possession and scored on 19-of-29 of his shot attempts from that play types. That production has put him in the 59th percentile (Good), albeit on pretty limited volume.
I love this clip. There is no shortage of NBA teams that could put any successful off ball shooter in a similar situation. Gholston is able to find Noah Carter (#35) just inside the top of the key. As Carter surveys the floor, Gholston sets a flair screen of D’Moi, who begins this clip posted in the right corner. This screen causes Santiago Vescovi (#25) to brace himself for the screen, while Julian Phillips (#2) is caught outside of a recovery position. D’Moi is able to convert a clean look moving off of a nice action away from the ball.
As few of possessions that we’ve seen Hodge have while cutting, we’ve seen even less off screens. There have only been 23 possessions, of which D’Moi has converted 7-of-22 shots from that play type. That places him within the 49th percentile (Average) among his collegiate peers. While his jumper has been clean—as noted earlier—being able to mobilize that shot with off ball actions is something that separates him as a potential NBA player.
My colleague and cohost, Nathan Grubel, recently wrote an excellent piece in which he breaks down how hard it is to simply make the NBA. Within that article, he analyses how players that are offense-only/offense-heavy players are able to make the NBA based on specific criteria. He also spoke to how hard it is for defense-only/defense-heavy prospects to make the league. While it is difficult, Nathan spoke to how those prospects have to have some offensive capabilities on top of stellar defense.
We just looked at how Hodge is a willing and solid contributor from deep, and now we’ll take a look at some of the defensive properties that make up D’Moi Hodge’s portfolio.
This is an impressive display of timing, footwork, athleticism, and smart hands here for our guy. After Gholston misses the shot for Mizzou, Arkansas instantly looks to push the break. Seeing the shot miss, D’Moi understand the scouting report: The Razorbacks like to play fast. He gets back into his transition defense as Anthony Black (#0) gets the ball from the rebound. Black gets the ball to Ricky Council IV (#1) and continues to run to the rim. Arkansas has a brief advantage, as Council kicks it back to Black slashing to the cup. As Black begins his upward ascent on the right block, D’Moi does the same in the restricted area. Hodge goes straight up from just under the hoop and swats Black’s layup. Black as size on D’Moi, but the hangtime and ball tracking D’Moi displays here is a real threat for any player believing they have a step on him.
D’Moi Hodge is ran through a big body on this possession and covers a ton of ground. His assignment is Adam Miller (#44), a pretty good scorer to say the least. Miller inbounds the ball here, and Hodge exerts a good amount of energy trying to prevent the entry pass. Miller gets the ball to KJ Williams (#12), who then hands the ball back to Miller and screens D’Moi. Our guy gets past the big body of Williams and gets back to being in step with Miller, as he drives to the lane. The body positioning of Miller is sound. He does enough to get D’Moi on his hip, but Miller doesn’t do enough to negate the length, timing, and instincts possessed by Hodge. The layup is slapped into the backboard and is corralled by Kobe Brown (#24). Great stuff!
Despite being an undersized guard for the modern NBA. At 6’4”, D’Moi has 17 blocks on the year—yielding a Block Percentage of 2.5%!
D’Moi Hodge is third in the NCAA in Steals Percentage for players with a minutes percentage of at least 67%. Having 73 total steals on the season, D’Moi is tied for fifth in the NCAA. On a per game basis, Hodge is eighth overall with 2.5 a game. To say that he has a knack to nab the ball is an understatement.
For to those curious as to how Hodge will handle larger player, this clip could serve as a bit of comfort. Mississippi State’s 6’7”, 220-pound, junior, Cameron Matthews, has our guy in a position that should be an advantage. With a +4ish height and +40ish weight advantage, Matthews goes straight to work against D’Moi. Matthews backs Hodge close to the restricted area, spins to his left, and gets to his shot. Matthews has his eyes on the rim—which is good—but he keeps the ball too low for one of the most savvy defenders in the SEC. Hodge gets into great position to poke the ball loose as it comes up and forces a turnover.
From one play in which Hodge uses excellent body positioning to force a turnover to another. Florida’s Ryan Kugel (#24)—a player that is becoming a bit of a guy as of late—gets the ball from Colin Castleton, and looks to bring the ball up the court. D’Moi Hodge positions himself in front of the 6’5”, 210-ish pound freshman, but Kugel looks to challenge him. Kugel gets into a crossover and attempts to blow past our guy, but D’Moi expertly times the cadence of the dribble—poking it away. Hodge is incredibly adept at forcing turnovers, as made evident by these two possessions.
D’Moi Hodge isn’t a player that is on many boards as of now. There’s a lot of hesitation on picking up a player that isn’t 6’5”+ or a guard that isn’t a lead initiator. The off-ball centric game of Hodge puts a theoretical cap on his value. While being a defensive menace, the likelihood of D’Moi becoming a player that could become versatile enough to truly defend three positions at the next level on a night-to-night basis is a big swing. The volatility of Hodge could be something that could scare teams from being confident in investing significant draft capital.
That being said, I don’t find it outlandish for a team to take him in the second round. Consider the players Hodge was compared to earlier. Gabe Vincent went undrafted and only played nine games for Miami in the 2019-2020 season. Cory Joseph was a first round pick, but fell to 29th in the 2011 NBA Draft. De’Anthony Melton fell into the 2nd round and was taken 46th overall in the 2018 NBA Draft. Patrick Beverly was the 42nd pick in 2009, but he didn’t even play until the 2012-2013 season. In retrospect, we can find reasons as to how these players could have/should have been taken higher, but NBA teams talked themselves down on those four. It could have been a size-based concern as to why they fell. It could have been due to level of competition. It may have been role, lack of a particular skill, or questions about athleticism. Regardless, those players have striking similarities to what D’Moi is doing at Missouri and we shouldn’t be surprised if he has a similar path to becoming a consistent NBA player.
Notes from Scouting Missouri vs. Georgia
The trip to go watch the Tigers visit the Bulldogs was a blast. Stegeman Coliseum—or, The Steg—is a beautiful court. There isn’t a bad seat in the house. The featured prospect of this article, D’Moi Hodge, and Kobe Brown of Missouri were the players that drew me to making the 6+ hour drive to Athens, Georgia. I made it there in time to see players warm up during individual drills, as well as pre-tip drills, so there was plenty to watch as an evaluator.
D’Moi was the best player on the floor that night. During his pregame, Hodge did what you expect of an athlete of his skill set. His pregame stretching was not taken lightly. There were many players that were participating in the same regimen, but I would say D’Moi outworked almost everyone in his preparation. Once he got to the basketball portion of his workouts, Hodge stuck mainly to the shooting. His release is pretty quick, and the motion was remarkably repeatable. There were some pick-and-roll drills he participated in—in which he actually looked solid—but I knew this wasn’t something to get excited about seeing much during the game.
His impact on the court was immediate, as the first play of the game ended with Hodge emphatically rejecting the first shot attempt of the game. There were a few times in which he was able to find his teammates on a few occasion. He had a nice feed to Kobe Brown for a dunk. There was another play in which D’Moi made a pass that led to some free throws—obviously something that won’t show up on a stat sheet, but those types of plays are certainly important. As the game bore out, his ability to serve as a “next, right pass” guy became more evident than I expected coming into the game. His clear, more palpable impact on offense was his shooting. He finished the game on 6-of-11 shooting, all coming from deep. His pregame shooting routine easily translated to in-game scenarios. He was able to relocate, moving in tandem with the ball handler—similar to how players on foosball bar move together. The release was just as quick and repeatable as it was in his warmups.
Defensively, D’Moi was relentless. After that first block on the first possession, he showed how quickly he could rotate and recover on presses and zones. His footwork and timing force more than a couple of drive-and-kick plays, in which the ball handler thought he could have finished around the cup. His ability to get around screens was solid. For a player of his stature, the fact that he can stick with his man when screeners and DHO partners try to force him off his assignment does wonders for his reputation and stock. Playing away from the ball, Hodge showed to be a factor in the passing lanes as well. He did register four fouls with about 10 minutes left in the 2nd half. Missouri shifted their defensive scheme several times during the game, with the foundation of their schemes being based on the amount of ground D’Moi can cover.
By the final buzzer, Hodge missed a good amount of the 2nd half and still was the best player of the game.
There was some speculation as to whether Kobe Brown would play this game or not, but he did make the trip ready to go. Like Hodge, Kobe participated fully in the stretches and team activities before his own pregame. Brown was able to get a good number of shots up. He looked to be at his best when shooting in the right corner, but I didn’t walk away impressed with his shot. The form wasn’t ideal, as he sort of catapulted the ball from his right shoulder. During some of the pregame drills and individual shots, I was quite impressed with his leaping. Before the game took place, the players returned to their locker rooms, but Kobe was the last player for the Tigers to leave the court, continuing to get his shots up.
Early in the game, Kobe was able to get a pass from Hodge and finished with a great dunk. That wouldn’t be the only one. Brown was able to make a timely cut to rim on another occasion, which led to another dunk. Unfortunately those two dunks accounted for half of his points. Georgia made it evident that Brown’s bully-ball style would be met by multiple Bulldog defenders. He was still able to make an impact throughout the game as a passer. His ability to hit the open man while being met with pressure on the block was pretty encouraging. He was able to log two assist, but finding the open man as frequent as he did isn’t done justice by simply looking at the assist total. He also was able to crash the offensive glass, which did lead to a putback.
On defense, Brown was asked to cover a lot of ground. He did make a steal out of the passing lane, and was able to make a nice hit-ahead pass in transition. There was an ugly charge attempt during this contest, but, again, Brown had to cover a lot of hardwood with the defense Missouri ran on the floor. His rotations were okay, but nothing to write home (or the internet) about either. He got a little sloppy in the second, as made clear by a cheap foul on the ball.
Brown missed a good portion of the second half, but he did make his way back into the game. When Missouri was up by 24 points at around the five minute mark, it looked like he and coach, Dennis Gates, had a conversation during a dead ball. Brown ended up staying in the game with eight points, so I chalked it up to Kobe wanted to stay in the game to register his 10th point on the evening. He ended up coming out with about two minutes left with only eight points, making it only the seventh game that he failed to reach double digit scoring.
I ultimately was a little underwhelmed on his performance, but I don’t necessarily think that game was the right context to make a definitive proclamation on his draft stock. Georgia was very keen on meeting him on the ball with multiple defenders. He did find ways to combat the pressure with nice passes, but that post playmaking was the driving force of the game either. The pressure did force some poor decisions. This game wasn’t everything, but it was an interesting data point.
I think you mean "Hodge was relentless" on defense. Nothing in the paragraph supports that he was not.