Strugg To Complete Dog Roster In August

Bulldog basketball should have a full-strength roster for Coach Ben Howland’s first season. They will remain a man-down for the rest of this summer, though.

Mississippi State confirmed Tuesday that freshman forward Joe Strugg will not enroll for the second summer semester. Instead the Montgomery, Ala., native will arrive on campus for the start of the fall semester.

With that August arrival, new coach Howland will have all 13 scholarship slots accounted for in 2016-17. Though, just a dozen of these Dogs will be participating in his first season at State.

Three other incoming freshman are already on campus along with the varsity and redshirted Bulldogs. Guards Malik Newman and Quindarry Weatherspoon and forward Aric Holman were cleared in time to enroll for the first summer semester.

Strugg, 6-8, was signed by Howland’s predecessor last November. Strugg played up to his recruiting expectations over the winter by helping Carver High School to a 24-7 record and the Alabama Class 6A championship. During the June SEC teleconference, Howland told media he expected Strugg—without naming him—to make the July 6 enrollment deadline.

The coach can wait another few weeks though to finish filling the fall roster. Howland was able to take care of another opening for 2015-16 anyway with the transfer of Louisiana Tech big guard Xavian Stapleton.

Stapleton is listed at 6-7 and 210 pounds and will still be a sophomore when activated for 2016-17 after sitting out the transfer year. Stapleton is returning to his home state too, having prepped at Madison Central High School. There he competed with both Weatherspoon and Newman.

Stapleton is already on campus for summer school. Mississippi State’s previous staff had recruited him before his signing with Louisiana Tech. Stapleton chose to transfer after Tech lost their coach to Florida. He played all 36 games for the (other) Bulldogs as a freshman with one start, averaging 15.5 minutes and 6.7 points. Of his 206 field goal attempts as a rookie, 115 were taken from the three-point arc and beyond with 29% accuracy.

With Stapleton sitting out the coming season, Howland has a dozen eligible Dogs for his first Mississippi State campaign. The guards are: seniors Craig Sword and Fred Thomas, junior I.J. Ready, and freshmen Newman and Weatherspoon.

The forwards are seniors Travis Daniels and Johny Zuppardo, sophomore Demetrius Houston, and freshmen Holman and Strugg. Post players are senior Gavin Ware and sophomore Fallou Ndoye.

Zuppardo is officially listed as a senior on the MSU basketball site. But he did not play as a junior transfer after a pre-season knee injury and should be able to receive the lost year back on appeal if State applies.


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