Jon Hood had worked hard all off-season, adding pounds and muscle, until a "freak" accident in pursuit of improvement Monday night turned his summer sour.
"Apparently, it was during a pickup game late (Monday) night," Hood's father, Brian, said Tuesday. "He wasn't hit or anything. It was a non-contact injury, where he just came down wrong. It was one of those freak things."
UK announced Tuesday that the rising junior from Madisonville had suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and would undergo surgery once swelling subsides.
"I think he has a pretty bad bone bruise, which you get from a torn ACL," said Brian Hood. "I think they just want things to calm down before they do the surgery. There's no real timetable right now."
Nor is there a timetable for Hood's recovery. Doctors won't know the extent of the injury until surgery is performed.
"He's like anybody would be," his father said when asked about his son's emotions. "He's a little bit frustrated and a little bit upset. But we've got to find something positive from this and move forward."
Rated as the 40th best prospect in the nation by Rivals.com when he came to Kentucky in 2009, the 6-foot-7 Hood was part of a heralded rookie class that included NBA Draft picks John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton.
Hood played in 17 games as a freshman, averaging 1.2 points as UK reached the Elite Eight.
With the arrival of freshmen Terrence Jones, Brandon Knight and Doron Lamb, plus the emergence of DeAndre Liggins, Hood played in 33 games on last year's Final Four team, averaging 4.8 minutes and 0.8 points.
Hood scored a career-high seven points in a win over Coppin State in December and played a career-high 20 minutes in a Southeastern Conference win over Louisiana State at Rupp Arena.
"It's terrible news, especially for Jon," former teammate Josh Harrellson said. "... I'm sure he's down in the dumps right now. I'm sure he was hoping to be one of the leaders and come out and make an impact. ... But I know we've got a great group of guys keeping him motivated."
Harrellson played with Hood on a tour of China last year, and he recalled Hood's positive attitude on the trip.
"Hoody's got a great character," he said. "He's always motivating people and cheering people on to get better. Even if he's not playing a lot, he's still there to keep you motivated, to keep you pumped up and to keep you ready. ... I'm sure he's still going to be a leader out there teaching the guys what to do right."
With John Calipari bringing in another No. 1 recruiting class and Jones electing to return for his sophomore season, Hood would have had to fight hard for playing time this season even if he were healthy. But the former North Hopkins star was preparing for the competition, his father said.
"It probably hurts a little worse when you've been working hard," Brian Hood said. "He's been working really hard. He'd gotten his weight up to 215 pounds. It's just one of those things that happens."
It happens not just to Kentucky, either. North Carolina announced last week that reserve guard Leslie McDonald had torn the ACL in his right knee during a Greater North Carolina Pro-Am Summer League game. The junior could end up missing the season.
There is no word yet on how much time Hood might expect to miss.
"This is a tough blow 4 both Jon & our team," Calipari said via Twitter on Tuesday. "Veteran leadership on a young team is irreplaceable but Jon will use this 2 come back stronger."
"It's tough," Brian Hood admitted. "But he's a very mature kid, and he's handled it in a very mature way. There have been no tears, no pity party. He's taken it a lot better than a lot of people would have, probably a lot better than I would have."