#113 Mississippi State Men's Basketball 2020-2021 Preview

Mississippi State Bulldogs
2020-2021 Overall Rank: #113
Conference Rank: #12 SEC
 Mississippi State Logo
Despite a third consecutive 20-win season, Mississippi State ended last season appearing to be on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble. Of course, with the season cut short there is no way of knowing for sure, but in any event the Bulldogs took a big step back from their 2018-19 season where they earned a 5-seed. Mississippi State will have to rely on some young players this season, but the NBA Draft decision of Robert Woodard hasn’t been made and is critical in their projection for 2020-21. Without Woodard, the Bulldogs will likely be a bottom half SEC team, but with him they could potentially compete for an NCAA Tournament berth.
2019-20 Record: 20-11, 11-7
Coach: Ben Howland
Coach Record: 98-67 at Mississippi State, 499-273 overall
Key Departed Players:
Reggie Perry, Forward, 17.4 ppg
Tyson Carter, Guard, 13.9 ppg
Nick Weatherspoon, Senior, Guard, 11.6 ppg
Robert Woodard, Junior, Guard, 11.4 ppg, Early NBA Entry
KeyShawn Feazell, Forward, 1.4 ppg
Prince Oduro, Forward, 1.2 ppg
Key Returning Players:
D.J. Stewart, Sophomore, Forward, 8.5 ppg
Iverson Molinar, Sophomore, Guard, 5.9 ppg
Abdul Ado, Senior, Forward, 5.7 ppg
Quinten Post, Sophomore, Center, 1.1 ppg
Key New Players:
Derek Fountain, Freshman, Guard
Andersson Garcia, Freshman, Forward
Jalen Johnson, Senior, Forward, Grad Transfer from Louisiana
Mook Matthews, Freshman, Forward
Keondre Montgomery, Freshman, Forward
Deivon Smith, Freshman, Guard
Tolu Smith, Sophomore, Forward, Transfer from Western Kentucky
Mississippi State appears likely to enter this season having to rely heavily on underclassmen and transfers. The ceiling for the Bulldogs would be higher if Robert Woodard elects to return to school. Woodard is an athletic and solid all-around player who averaged 11.4 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 1.1 steals and 1.0 blocks as a sophomore. Woodard is a potential first round pick, but with the uncertainty surrounding this offseason, there is always a chance he could come back for his junior season. D.J. Stewart is definitely back and is a strong candidate to breakout as a sophomore. Stewart averaged 8.5 points, 2.5 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.0 steals as a redshirt freshman. The former four-star recruit is entering his third year at Mississippi State and is primed for a big season. Abdul Ado is the only other confirmed returning starter. Ado has started every game but one in his Bulldog career and last year he averaged 5.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.9 blocks. Ado is a key glue-guy for Mississippi State and will be an important senior on the roster this year. Iverson Molinar had a solid freshman season and will become a full-time starter this year regardless of Woodard’s decision. Molinar is also a former four-star prospect who averaged 5.9 points and 1.3 assists while shooting 37.1% from three in 15 minutes per game. The last returning player for the Bulldogs is Quinten Post, a seven-footer from The Netherlands who appeared in just eight games as a freshman. There will be two transfers joining the team this season to help boost the experience level. Jalen Johnson is a grad transfer from Louisiana who averaged 15.5 points and 6.6 rebounds last season. Meanwhile, Tolu Smith spent one season at Western Kentucky where he averaged 3.3 points in 10 minutes per game. Lastly, Mississippi State brings in five freshmen this offseason. All five could see playing time with the thin roster, but Deivon Smith is the most likely to contribute as he was a four-star, top-75 recruit nationally. Without Robert Woodard, 2020-21 will likely be a transition year for the Bulldogs, though D.J. Stewart and Iverson Molinar both have potential to breakout as sophomores. 
Projected Postseason Tournament: CBI/CIT
By the Numbers:
Scoring Offense: 73.4 (108th in nation, 7th in conference)
Scoring Defense: 68.1 (143, 6)
Field-Goal Percentage: 46.8 (33, 2)
Field-Goal Defense: 42.4 (153, 9)
Three-Point Field Goals Per Game: 5.2 (330, 13)
Three-Point Field-Goal Percentage: 33.6 (164, 4)
Free-Throw Percentage: 75.4 (37, 4)
Rebound Margin: 7.0 (15, 1)
Assists Per Game: 13.4 (151, 5)
Turnovers Per Game: 13.9 (246, 10)
Madness 2020 Men’s Basketball Recruit Rankings:
#57 Deivon Smith