Johnny Zuppardo Signs With MSU

Jones County Junior College power forward Johnny Zuppardo (6-9, 235), who helped lead his high school and junior college to championships, has signed with Mississippi State.

  • Name: Johnny Zuppardo
  • Position: Small Forward
  • Ht-Wt: 6-foot-9, 235
  • Junior College: Jones County Junior College
  • High School: St. Stanislaus (Bay St. Louis, MS) High School
  • Schools of Interest: Signed with MSU over offers from Washington and Tulane, among others

    Although he had other offers, it didn't take Zuppardo long to decide what college he wanted to play for next season.

    "I signed (with MSU) because I really liked the coaches and players," said the 6-foot-9, 235-pounder who officially visited Mississippi State this past weekend. "They were very honest and they did a good job of making it feel like home. Their team has a lot of upside and can do a lot of damage next year in the SEC."

    This past season, 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. He pulled down 6.9 rebounds per game.

    During the NJCAA tournament, he helped lead his team to the national championship by scoring 19.4 points per game. He also grabbed a little over 7 rebounds per game.

    Zuppardo, who was named to the NJCAA All-Tournament and Region 23 All-Tournament teams this season, feels like he is living a dream now that he has signed with Mississippi State.

    "This is all like a dream come true," said Zuppardo. "I just thank God and my new coaches for the opportunity."

    He is scheduled to play in the NJCAA All-Star Game in Las Vegas later this month.

    According to Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray, "the first thing (you like) about him is the fact that he was winning. You want to bring in guys who feel winning is important. That was the first thing that stood out about him. The second thing were his hands. I know that he can shoot but he has good hands and catches a lot of passes and makes good passes. He's skilled around the basket using either his right hand or his left hand. Those were the things that stood out to me right away."

    Offensively, Ray feels Zuppardo is very versatile and will be a mismatch to opposing team's defenses.

    "Not only does he have the ability to stretch the defense with his three-point shooting, but if the defense wants to switch the ball screen he is a legitimate threat to score down in the post because he is really good with his back to the basket as well," said Ray.

    Obviously, Zuppardo is an outstanding shooter, but Ray also believes he's going to be a solid rebounder and defender.

    "The biggest thing about him is his toughness," said Ray. "He's able to rebound and defend not so much because of his athleticism but because of his toughness."

    The final thing Zuppardo brings to the Bulldog program is size, something MSU was sorely lacking last season.

    "Last year we had one guy who was 6-9," said Ray. "Now we will have five guys 6-9 or better."

    Those five include junior Gavin Ware (6-9, 265), redshirt freshman Fallou Ndoye (6-11, 225), redshirt junior Travis Daniels (6-9, 230), true freshman Oliver Black (6-9, 225) and junior Zuppardo (6-foot-9, 235).

    According to Ray, Zuppardo is the final signee in the 2014 class, a class that also features guard Maurice Dunlap (6-1, 170), small forward Demetrius Houston (6-7, 200) and power forward Oliver Black.

    "This is it as far as the 2014 class," said Ray.

    Discuss Zuppardo's signing with other MSU fans on the Gene's Page basketball forum

    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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