Weatherspoon was named Tuesday to the Southeastern Conference’s All-Freshman squad. This surprised no one, given that Weatherspoon had already been named the league’s Freshman of the Week twice. Weatherspoon appreciates it all the same.
“It’s a real honor to be named to the All-SEC Freshman team,” Weatherspoon said in a provided statement. “All the credit goes to my coaches and teammates for this honor.”
For his first college regular season, Weatherspoon averaged 12.2 points with 4.7 rebounds. That was noteworthy enough. What clinched his all-conference status though was how well the rookie performed against the SEC. Over the 18 games, he averaged a team-leading 14.9 points and 5.8 rebounds.
To top it off, for a portion of SEC season the 6-4 guard has played out of natural position. He rotated down to small forward and at times even power forward. This was necessary due to the slim state of State’s roster…but also showed how versatile Weatherspoon is.
The stats, that shows how Coach Ben Howland’s confidence in the new kid was justified.
“I’m not surprised by it,” Howland said today. “A lot of it is his attitude and work ethic and talent level. I’m happy for him, to see how he’s progressed and how he’ll continue to progress.”
Weatherspoon is the first all-freshman Bulldog since a couple of his senior classmates, center Gavin Ware and guard Craig Sword, were named in 2013. He is just the 11th Bulldog to make the All-Freshman team since 1986. Weatherspoon earned a place among the three finalists for the Howell Award, given to the state’s top collegian. His fellow finalists were both seniors, Ware and Ole Miss guard and winner Stefan Moody.
He’s also done it for a coach who did not recruit him to Mississippi State. Of course Howland is very happy his predecessor did sign the all-state star from Velma Jackson High School. “You have to remember, I never saw him play other than film. So my expectations were formed when I started working with him in June,” Howland said.
“I saw his body in the weightroom, his legs that come all the way up to here on me, I said that’s a basketball player.” Weatherspoon proved it in practice and play, fortunately. The best part to Howland is this is no finished product.
“I learned yesterday he didn’t start playing organized basketball until the ninth grade,” Howland said. “That’s stunning.” But exciting, because the coach added a later start only means the ultimate ceiling for Weatherspoon is that much higher as the body matures in college ball.
“I’ve just been working as hard as I can to get better and help my team get better this season. And we’re not done yet,” Weatherspoon said. “This just motivates me to work even harder and try to help our team finish out the season on the highest note possible.”
The Bulldogs will likely end their first season with Howland at this week’s SEC Tournament, barring an upset run through the 13-team event in Nashville. #11 seeded State takes on #6 Georgia in Thursday’s late game.