By JOHN SAHLY - jsahly@daily-chronicle.com

How high will NIU's Hood go?

DeKALB – Jordin Hood finds himself in an interesting situation.

With the Major League Baseball Draft starting today and running through Thursday, Hood unquestionably has the talent to be selected at some point in the draft. The question is, when?

The answer likely will determine whether or not the junior outfielder will return to Northern Illinois for his senior season.

"It just depends on what happens," Hood said. "I don't know what will happen. I definitely have no problem coming back to school."

Hood batted .382 this past season with 10 home runs, 46 RBIs and 14 stolen bases. He was named to the All-Mid-American Conference second team and also was hit by a pitch 23 times.

“From a draft standpoint he has some leverage,” NIU coach Ed Mathey said. “If a team drafts him, one of things they’re going to try to do is pay for his last year of school. In the past, if you’re drafted between the 15th and 35th rounds, assuming you’re a junior, that’s where they can pay that money.”

While that’s a large range to fall into, Mathey said being selected after the 20th-25th rounds starts to raise some legitimate concerns.

“Anything after that, especially for a guy that’s a junior, you’re going to have to go out and do something pretty good early,” Mathey said.

Hood, who is playing for the Quincy Gems of the Prospect League this summer, said he probably won't follow the draft and doesn't have a set round that will make or break his decision.

"I probably won't pay much attention to it," Hood said. "If something happens I'm sure someone will tell me."

Hood has seen his numbers increase with each season, hitting almost 100 points higher as a junior than he did as a freshman.

This season he was arguably the most dangerous hitter in NIU’s lineup and is closing in on several school records, one of the many reasons why Mathey wouldn’t mind seeing Hood spend another season in DeKalb.

“Our team is much better with Jordin back in the lineup,” Mathey said. “I told Jordin this: ‘I want what you want. I will help you. My obligation is to tell you the good and bad about what’s out there.”

Mathey said Hood has been on scouts’ radars for several years and he has heard several good things about the right-handed slugger.

But the MLB Draft is a complicated process. There are 50 rounds and eligible players include high school seniors and those who have been out of high school for at least three years.

It makes scouting a difficult process. Mathey said major league teams often break up scouting into about 16 regions.

“Our best kid in our region may be the best according to one scout, but then there are the cross checkers and national guys that might have a different opinion,” Mathey said. “That’s always the hard thing.”

And, it likely will determine where Hood plays baseball next season.

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