Brian Bryant Proving His Coach Right

PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA - Northwest Florida Community College sophomore basketball player Brian Bryant, with his outstanding play this season, has proven that a decision made by NWFCC head coach, Bruce Stewart, last season was definitely a wise move.

"I think he is outstanding with the ball in his hands," said Coach Stewart, whose team is currently ranked 15th in the nation. "I saw that in high school because when he had the ball in his hands he just made plays. And I thought if he got grooved into a position like the point guard spot he would be an outstanding 6-3 point guard within a year or so and he's turned out to be that."

Brian confirmed that statement this month by being recognized as the FCCAA's Player of the Week after averaging 25 points and 7.5 rebounds in two victories during the second week of December.

Brian, who is averaging 19.9 points a game as well as 5.8 assists and 2.3 steals, couldn't be happier about being moved to point guard his first season at NWFCC.

"Coming out of high school I played the two, the shooting guard," said the 6-3, 160-pounder. "I just started playing the point last year. It took me a couple of games to get used to it. Now, I like the one best."

Brian, with his early play last season, was on a path that would have generated a lot of recruitment buzz but an injury slowed that buzz down considerably.

"I was playing well last year until I broke my finger just as we had gotten into conference play," said Brian. "I had played all the non-conference games and a couple of conference games when I broke it."

Despite the limited playing time, a few colleges liked what they saw and kept an eye on the youngster this season. And one Southeastern Conference school quickly came in with an offer after seeing him very early in the season.

"Mississippi State (assistant coach Phil Cunningham) had come to one of our pre-season non-conference games (this season) and saw me," said Brian. "And he talked to my coach about me. He said he liked me because I was like a combo guard, I could play the one and slide down and play the wing."

In addition to Mississippi State, several other schools showed considerable interest.

"Auburn, the University of South Alabama and Southern Mississippi also recruited me," said Brian. "Southern Mississippi offered me a scholarship."

Brian took an official visit to Mississippi State and liked what he saw.

"I visited Mississippi State and saw that they not only have a good basketball program but they have a nice academic system for the athletes," said Brian.

Brian quickly committed to Mississippi State, then signed with them during the November signing period.

Since then, numerous other college coaches have had the chance to see Brian in action this season and have come away very impressed.

"Everybody that sees him now are kicking themselves in the britches for not recruiting him earlier," said Coach Stewart. "I guess Mississippi State was one step ahead of everybody else and you have to give them credit for doing their job."

It's not surprising that Mississippi State took notice of the Northwest Florida Community College product considering the success they had with a player they signed from that school a few years ago - Branden Vincent, a guy that Mississippi State head basketball coach Rick Stansbury called the team's most valuable player his senior season.

"(Branded and Brian) play different positions but they are very similar in character and disposition and makeup," said Coach Stewart. "But Brian is more of an offensive player. That's not a slam on Branden because Branden was a good defensive player, good rebounder, a rugged kid with toughness who could score a little bit. But Brian can really score. He's had some high 20s, 30-point games for us this year."

As for the total package that Mississippi State is getting in Brian Bryant, according to Coach Stewart, "first of all, he's a great person. He's got great character, a great heart, and he's one of the better leaders that we have in recent years at Northwest Florida. And then he's a talented, athletic combo guard who can play two positions."

With the graduation of senior two-guard Barry Stewart and the lack of a solid backup for current MSU point guard Dee Bost, Brian Bryant is just what the doctor ordered for next year's Mississippi State Bulldog team.

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

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