In the second season under Ben Howland, the former UCLA coach has brought in a huge (in both quantity and quality) recruiting class for the Mississippi State Bulldogs. All in all, Mississippi State will see nine newcomers this season including seven recruits straight out of high school, of which all but one are 4-star recruits.
Now it’s quite not the level of Kentucky’s recent recruiting classes, but landing six 4-star recruits in one class will surely bring hype and anticipation to a team. It has done just that for the 2016-2017 Bulldogs as many people have high hopes for the program and expect Mississippi State to be one of the teams vying for the 2nd spot in the SEC behind Kentucky.
Newcomers, even at the level of Kentucky, Duke, or other blue blood can’t single handily make a good team. A truly good team needs to have some returning talent and players that know how to navigate college basketball. Mississippi State has just enough in Quinndary Weatherspoon and I.J. Ready. As a sophomore, Weatherspoon is the leading returning scorer for the Bulldogs at 12 PPG and also added 4.7 RPG as a guard. Helping him lead the young talent will be senior guard I.J. Ready who averaged 9.2 PPG and 4.5 APG in almost 30 MPG last season.
Weatherspoon and Ready will be the foundation that the rest of the team is built upon, but the influx of talent that the 2016 class holds will make or break this team. There’s so much new talent that the Bulldogs are likely to succeed this season, but relying on almost a completely new team can still be a cause for slight concern.
The Mississippi State Bulldogs are a team that could be very good or just above average in the SEC. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Bulldogs finished with 25+ wins and 2nd in the SEC behind Kentucky, but I also wouldn’t be taken aback if they finish slightly above 0.500 and near the middle of the pack in the SEC.
Of the newcomers, Schnider Herard, a 6’10” 4-star center and the 47th ranked player in the class of 2016, will be the most definite starter. The Bulldogs need skill in the post and Herard will bring just that. Joining Weatherspoon and Ready in the back court will likely be Mario Kegler, a 6’7” 4-star guard and the 52nd ranked player in the class of 2016. Kegler brings some size that neither Weatherspoon or Ready have and can allow the Bulldogs to play up to bigger teams while keeping their best players on the court.
I’m not totally buying into the predictions that Mississippi State will be one of the best teams in the SEC this year, but it’s certainly possible. For me, the high hopes from last year and the relative disappointment still linger and I will have to see some early chemistry and on court improvement from the newcomers early in conference play in order to fully buy in. The sky’s the limit for the 2016-2017 Mississippi State Bulldogs, but nothing is guaranteed with nine newcomers joining the team.
#1 Lamar Peters, 6’0” 4-star G from Landry-Walker HS
#2 Eli Wright, 6’4” 4-star G from 22 Feet Academy
#3 Xavian Stapleton, 6’6” G transfer from Louisiana Tech
#4 Mario Kegler, 6’7” 4-star G from Oak Hill Academy
#5 Joe Strugg, 6’9” 3-star F redshirted last season
#23 Tyson Carter, 6’4” 4-star G from Starkville HS
#24 Abdul Ado, 6’11” 4-star F from Hamilton Heights HS
#34 Schnider Herard, 6’10” 4-star C from Prestonwood Christian HS
#45 E.J. Datcher, 6’9” 3-star F from Vincent HS
#1 Lamar Peters, 6’0” G - 96th ranked player nationally and 4th ranked player in Louisiana
#2 Eli Wright, 6’4” G - 80th ranked player nationally and 2nd ranked player in Kentucky
#4 Mario Kegler, 6’7” G - 52nd ranked player nationally and top ranked player in Virginia
#11 Quinndary Weatherspoon, 6’4” G - Leading returning scorer at 12 PPG and averaged 4.7 RPG in all 31 games last season
#15 I.J. Ready, 5’11” G - Averaged 9.2 PPG and 4.5 APG in 29.5 MPG last season
#23 Tyson Carter, 6’4” G - 97th ranked player nationally and 2nd ranked player in Mississippi
#24 Abdul Ado, 6’11” F - 119th ranked player nationally and 3rd ranked player in Tennessee
#34 Schnider Herard, 6’10” C - 47th ranked player overall nationally and 8th ranked center
2016-2017 Season Predictions
|vs Norfolk State||W|
|Villanova/W. Michigan/Wake Forest/UTEP||L|
|vs Northwestern State||W|
|vs Oregon State||W|
|vs Georgia State||W|
|vs East Tennessee State||W|
|vs Morehead State||W|
|vs Texas A&M||W|
|@ Ole Miss||L|
|vs South Carolina||W|
|vs Ole Miss||W|
|@ South Carolina||L|