#92 Mississippi State Men's Basketball 2017-2018 Preview

Mississippi State Bulldogs

2017-2018 Overall Rank: #92
Conference Rank: #11 SEC

Mississippi State Logo
Coach Ben Howland entered last season with the challenge of getting his young team filled with freshmen and sophomores to compete in the SEC. The Bulldogs started off strong, going 3-1 out of the gates in SEC play, including wins at Arkansas and against Texas A&M. However, the team’s inexperience showed up as the schedule went along, and Mississippi State lost 11 of their last 14 regular season games. This season, Coach Howland returns a majority of his roster while also adding some promising recruits. The Bulldogs will still be one of the younger teams in the SEC, but they will be primed to make a bigger impact in the conference this time around.
2016-17 Record: 16-16
2016-17 Postseason:
Ben Howland
Coach Record:
30-33 at Mississippi State, 429-236 overall
Who’s Out:
Two of Mississippi State’s top five leading scorers from last season have departed from the program. I.J. Ready has graduated after a four-year career with the Bulldogs. Ready was a consistent contributor in each of his four seasons in Starkville. Over the course of his career, Ready averaged 7.9 points, 3.5 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. Ready did a little bit of everything and his veteran presence will be missed this season. Starting forward Mario Kegler will also be gone after he decided to transfer to Baylor this offseason. Kegler is a former top-50 recruit and started all 32 games for Mississippi State last season. Kegler was expected to play a major role for the Bulldogs this season, and his departure came as a surprise to Coach Howland. Kegler was the team’s third leading scorer with 9.7 points per game.
Who’s In:
Recruiting has always been a strength for Ben Howland and this offseason was no exception. Nick Weatherspoon is the big name in this year’s freshman class. The four-star guard is the brother of Quinndary Weatherspoon, who led the Bulldogs in scoring last season. The two brothers should have no trouble establishing chemistry on the court. In-state three-star forward KeyShawn Feazell also committed to play for Howland back in October 2016. Ferrell was rated as the number two player in Mississippi, right behind Weatherspoon. Lastly, Abdul Ado will be on the active roster this season after being ruled ineligible and redshirting his first year at Mississippi State. Ado was a four-star recruit and should make an impact at the center position for the Bulldogs.
Who to Watch:
The older Weatherspoon brother, Quinndary, is set to be the leader on this season’s squad. As a sophomore, Weatherspoon scored 16.5 points per game on 46% shooting from the field, including a 37% mark from three. Weatherspoon earned second team All-SEC honors as the seventh leading scorer in the conference. Lamar Peters also returns after finishing second on the team in scoring as a freshman with 10.7 points. Peters was named to the SEC All-Freshman team and led the Bulldogs with 59 three-pointers made on 36.6% shooting from deep. Last season’s starting big man, Aric Holman, will be back for his junior year. Holman led the team in rebounding with six per game and added 8.4 points per contest. Two players primed to take a step forward are Xavian Stapleton and Tyson Carter. Stapleton missed the first nine games of the season recovering from an ACL tear and should be fully healthy after averaging 7.0 points per game off the bench. Carter was fifth on the team in scoring as a freshman and shot 36% from three. Both players should see an uptick in minutes this season. Schnider Herard is also back after starting 19 games as a freshman last season. Herard gives the Bulldogs a big body in the paint to draw fouls and clean the glass.
Final Projection:
Mississippi State was extremely young last season and it showed in SEC play. However, that valuable experience will help the Bulldogs who return most of last season’s roster. There will be much more consistency and familiarity this season for Coach Ben Howland’s squad. Even the top incoming player, Nick Weatherspoon, will be playing alongside his brother and All-SEC guard Quinndary Weatherspoon. The brotherly combo mixed with the returning talent should help Mississippi State compete in the SEC. Even role players like sophomores Eli Wright and E.J. Datcher both return, which only adds to the stability of the team. If the young players all take a step forward as they should, the Bulldogs should easily improve upon last season’s 6-12 finish in SEC play.
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI / CIT / V16
Projected Starting Five:
Lamar Peters, Sophomore, Guard, 10.7 points per game

Nick Weatherspoon, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Quinndary Weatherspoon, Junior, Guard, 16.5 points per game
Xavian Stapleton, Junior, Forward, 7.0 points per game
Aric Holman, Junior, Center, 8.5 points per game
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 72.5 (193rd in nation, 9th in conference)

Scoring Defense: 71.3 (148, 7)
Field-Goal Percentage: 44.4 (165, 6)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.8 (116, 11)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 7.7 (139, 5)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 34.7 (188, 6)
Free-Throw Percentage: 68.7 (223, 10)
Rebound Margin: -1.6 (255, 12)
Assists Per Game: 12.1 (269, 12)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.5 (231, 9)
Madness 2017 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#27 Nick Weatherspoon