However tough this week’s introduction to the weightroom was, fear not for the freshman’s future. Quindarry Weatherspoon is sharp enough to have expected this transition. And he’s more than tough enough to accept it as a challenge.
“I’m ready to get the thing going. So that really motivated me and I’m ready to get back in there tomorrow.” And the next day, and the next, and on through these summer weeks at Mississippi State.
Ben Howland was certainly ready to get Weatherspoon and the rest of the first-semester freshmen on campus. Not just to put them in the weightroom, of course. The new Bulldog basketball coach is able to begin hands-on work with the whole summer roster as the June semester opened, within the NCAA’s allotments in weekly hours.
Given the lofty reputations of Weatherspoon, Malik Newman, and Aric Holman, it might seem their college coach would just enjoy watching the rookies run around on a court. Wrong. Oh so wrong. Howland is already tearing into how every individual Dog stands, moves, shoots, runs, everything.
In Weatherspoon’s case, it is his shot that has drawn instant attention.
“A lot. With my jumper he’s saying I have to stop bringing the ball down, get it off quicker. And have my feet set, real low. I’m learning a lot from him. I like it.”
Now, this is a fellow who not only scored 19.1 points as a senior on his third-straight Class 3A championship team. Weatherspoon shot 59% in the process, too, so he had to be doing something right with the rock. Yet instead of surprise ‘Q’ has taken to correction, adjustment, and instruction as if being handed a shiny new toy.
“Because I know I was doing some things wrong, but I was getting away with it in high school because I was better than some of the kids I was playing against.” Make that ‘almost all’ of the guys Weatherspoon shared the court with. Only in summer ball or maybe the state title rounds did he run into real peers.
Now, however, “I know it will be different on this level. So I’m very excited he’s breaking my game down and telling me what I’m doing wrong.”
Don’t misunderstand though. Howland and staff will tell their Dogs what is being done right, too. Based on high school and summer feats yeah, there will be lots of that to talk about.
Unlike his two fellow June freshman—a fourth signee, Joe Strugg, is trying to qualify for July enrollment—Weatherspoon did not sign-on with Howland. His papers were inked last November. So when Mississippi State made the sudden change of coaches in April, it was natural for Weatherspoon to wonder about Howland.
So, he did his own research.
“I looked at his background and things he had done with UCLA. He just came to my house for the in-home visit and told me everything I needed to know. That’s why I stuck with them.”
Within weeks Newman joined the rookie roster. This pair have contended and competed over their prep careers for status as Mississippi’s best basketball player. In a dream world both would have been in the same Class. Instead Weatherspoon settled for dominating 3A at Velma Jackson High, while Newman’s Callaway clubs owned 5A for three-straight seasons.
Their paths have more than crossed of course, as teammates in summer basketball. Now they are full-time partners and loving it.
“We treat it just as brothers. He tells me everything, I tell him anything. We pick at each other up when we’re down. We critique each other with our game. So we’ve got a real good bond.”
Such bonding extends to the entire Bulldog roster, fortunately. Their first summer semester gathering at Humphrey Coliseum continued after the coaching staff left as Weatherspoon really got to know Gavin Ware, Craig Sword, Fred Thomas, I.J. Ready, Travis Daniels, et.al.
“I spent a lot of time with them last night when we first met, we all stayed in the locker room and started talking. Yeah, we get along real fine.”
There is a fan base feeling quite fine now about reviving this program. New management is one obvious reason. New and touted talent? Absolutely. Fans will also love what Weatherspoon said about the only aspect of recent Bulldog basketball which hurt worse than the records: the offense.
This is something Weatherspoon, Newman, and Holman intend to change.
“I know we didn’t score a lot of points last year at Mississippi State. Hopefully me and him on the court together, we can accumulate a lot of points. And playing with him last summer we got some good wins. So hopefully we can do the same thing on the college level.”
Speaking of college level…barely on campus and already Weatherspoon was thinking ahead to the next day’s coursework. It’s called summer school, after all.
“I’m not going to say I liked it! But it was fun. We’re going to get through it.”