Lavon Hooks a basketball player no more

Lavon Hooks went to Booneville (Miss.) Northeast to be a basketball player. He'll leave a football player.

"He wasn't on anybody's radar," Northeast head coach Ricky Smithers said.

Now he is. Once a 6-foot-4, 245-pound hoopster, Hicks is now a 6-foot-4, 295-pound defensive tackle.

"He's being recruited by everybody SEC-wise except for Alabama and LSU," Smithers said.

Hooks, who is originally from Atlanta, Ga., is a standout for Northeast at defensive tackle and nose guard. Not bad for a player who didn't even play defense until his senior season in high school.

"He's a very athletic kid," Smithers said.

Hooks has scholarship offers from Ole Miss, Texas Tech, Missouri, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, Memphis, Troy, Arizona State and Iowa State. When asked what he's looking for in a college, he said, "Where I can go fit in their program and earn some playing time right off the bat when I get in there in the spring time. A place where I can get my degree, of course. To make me a better player so I can get to the next level."

Ole Miss has a certain appeal. Hooks is familiar with the area and the nearby school.

"I like Ole Miss. ... I feel like I could fit in their program pretty well but I"m not really focused on SEC," Hooks said. "I just want to go somewhere where I can play ball.

The Rebels also have playing time to divvy out considering they are rebuilding under first-year coach Hugh Freeze.

"I do think about that," Hooks said. "They're in a rebuilding state. I do want to go in there and play. Ole Miss is pretty cool."

Hooks is also receiving interest from Auburn and Florida. An offer from either would be welcome.

"It would probably mean I"m doing my job," Hooks said. "It would be pretty exciting."

Memphis is also worth watching. Hooks said he has a strong connection with the Tigers' coaching staff.