Season Preview: Mississippi State
Last Season: 16-16
Key Losses: Mario Kegler, I.J. Ready
Key Additions: Nick Weatherspoon
Over the past two seasons, the Bulldogs have lost two of their most highly touted recruits in program history, Mario Kegler, and Malik Newman. Ben Howland’s first two years in Starkville have been underwhelming as his teams have gone 13-23 in Big 12 play. Granted, each of those teams the Bulldogs were one of the youngest teams in the SEC, but Mississippi State fans are getting sick and tired of below average results. Will Howland’s team make some noise this year or will his seat get even hotter?
The Bulldogs’ success this year depends on the play of junior guard Quinndary Weatherspoon. In his sophomore season, Weatherspoon averaged 16.5 points per game and shot roughly 47% from the field. Weatherspoon’s partner in crime will be his freshman brother, Nick, a 6-foot-2 guard who was a consensus top-30 recruit coming out of high school. Joining the Weatherspoon brothers is 6-foot sophomore Lamar Peters who averaged 10 points and 3.5 assists as a freshman and showed great strides in running the offense as the year progressed. Sophomores Tyson Carter and Eli Wright will be key coming off the bench this year as they both have displayed flashes of potential in the past.
While the backcourt could be one of the more promising in the conference, the Bulldogs also bring back a solid group of frontcourt players despite the loss of Kegler. A pair of 6-foot-10 forwards, sophomore Schnider Herard and junior Aric Holman, return after a solid 2017-’18 campaign. Herard averaged 5.1 points and 5.6 rebounds while playing 18 minutes a game last year and Holman 8.4 points and 6.0 rebounds in 23 minutes. Both should see an increase in their minutes with the departure of Kelger. An overlooked freshman in the SEC this year is 6-foot-8 KeyShawn Feazell. A three-star recruit, Feazell held offers from a host of high-major programs including Kansas State and Iowa State and is versatile for someone of his size.
There is a sense of uncertainty surrounding this team. Some people think the Bulldogs will be in the bottom tier of the conference and others believe they could make a run and sneak into the NCAA Tournament. One thing for sure, Howland is coaching for his job right now, and if this team can’t find a way to do some damage this season, then he could be looking for a new gig at the end of the season.
Projected Starting Lineup:
PG: Nick Weatherspoon
SG: Quinndary Weatherspoon
SF: Xavian Stapelton
PF: Aric Holman
C: Schnider Herard
Photo Credit: Jackson Free Press