Forward Johnny Zuppardo Visits MSU

Jones County Junior college forward Johnny Zuppardo officially visited Mississippi State this weekend.

  • Name: Johnny Zuppardo
  • Position: Small Forward
  • Ht-Wt: 6-foot-9, 230
  • Junior College: Jones County Junior College
  • High School: St. Stanislaus (Bay St. Louis, MS) High School
  • Schools of Interest: Kent State, Mississippi State, St. Bonaventure, Tulane, Washington, Wichita State, UL-Monroe

    Zuppardo talked about the visit.

    "The visit went well, really well," he said. "I had a lot of fun. I hung out with the players and coaches. It's a good program that has great people in it."

    His primary recruiter for Mississippi State is assistant coach Chris Hollender. He and Coach Hollender are very familiar with each other.

    "Coach Hollender, who is a great coach, actually recruited me out of high school when he was at Evansville," said Zuppardo, who signed with Arkansas State out of high school, then transferred to Southern Miss at the conclusion of his freshman season at Arkansas State. "He's a good dude. I really enjoyed talking to him."

    Before he left the Mississippi State campus Sunday, Zuppardo had a one-on-one meeting with Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray.

    "Coach Ray talked about how they will be able to use me and what I can do for them," said Zuppardo. "They don't have any players like me in their program (big guys who are good outside shooters). He said I could come in and contribute."

    Coach Ray feels that Zuppardo's shooting ability is a huge asset for the Bulldog program.

    "(Coach Ray) said he wants me to shoot the three and post up on the block because I have a really good post-up game and I could score down low in the SEC," said Zuppardo. "That was encouraging to me because I have always wondered if I could do that."

    This past season, his first at JCJC after transferring from Southern Miss, Zuppardo scored 15.2 points per game, shooting 62.7% from the field, including 43.1% from the three-point line. He also made 76.2% of his free throws.

    Zuppardo helped lead his JCJC team to the national championship this season. He really stepped it up during the tournament, scoring 20.4 points per game.

    "When the tournament came around I was playing to win," said Zuppardo. "I play basketball to win championships. When I was at St. Stanislaus we won a state championship."

    His efforts in the national championship run gained the attention of the Mississippi State coaches.

    "Mississippi State got involved in my recruiting after we won the national championship (at Jones County Junior College)," said Zuppardo. "They saw me in the regional tournament but weren't recruiting me. When they saw me in the national championship tournament and saw my progression, they offered me and asked me if I would consider playing at Mississippi State. It was awesome to get the offer."

    Mississippi State is one of many colleges recruiting the talented forward.

    "I'm being recruited my Washington, Mississippi State, Kent State, St. Bonaventure, Tulane, ULM and Wichita State," said Zuppardo. "They've all offered."

    As of now, he will officially visit two colleges, Mississippi State and Washington. It's possible he'll make his college choice after the Washington visit next weekend.

    "I'll probably make my decision after I go visit Washington but I'm not sure," said Zuppardo.

    He knows what he's looking for in a college.

    "The things that will determine where I go is trust on and off the court and being able to help them win," said Zuppardo. "I can't win if I'm not on the court."

    According to Zuppardo, Mississippi State's situation fits what he's looking for.

    "Mississippi State meets all of those things," said Zuppardo.

    Although Mississippi State didn't have a winning season the past two years, that won't factor into his decision. In fact, he feels like he'll be part of the reason they'll start winning.

    "I'm one of those guys who if I go somewhere we are going to win no matter where I go," said Zuppardo. "I play to win. I've won my entire life. I won a state championship in high school and a national championship in juco ball. My two years that I played in high school we went to the state championship (tournament) both times."

    Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the website, the source for Mississippi State sports on sports network. You can contact him by emailing

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