Premium Article] Over the past few seasons, the month of March has produced numerous anxious and excited moments for Mississippi State basketball fans. And this current month of March has proved to be no exception that to that rule."> Premium Article] Over the past few seasons, the month of March has produced numerous anxious and excited moments for Mississippi State basketball fans. And this current month of March has proved to be no exception that to that rule.">

MSU Basketball Signee Travis Outlaw Update

<img src="http://www.genespage.com/images/highschool/basketball/2003/toutlaw.jpg" align="left" width="119" height="161"> Premium Article] Over the past few seasons, the month of March has produced numerous anxious and excited moments for Mississippi State basketball fans. And this current month of March has proved to be no exception that to that rule.

However, even though junior forward Mario Austin has already bypassed the 'will he go or stay' mayhem by announcing his decision to return to school, the maroon and white faithful may still have more anxious moments before the May 12th deadline for early entries for the NBA. Bulldog signee and Starkville High School product Travis Outlaw is also being courted by the professional ranks. While the 6-foot-8 small forward seems to be leaning towards attending college, he admits that the decision is still in the air, awaiting more information about his possible draft status.

"It is really hard to say right now," said Outlaw, who helped lead the Yellow Jackets to a 28-3 record and 5A runner-ups in the state title game. "I mean, if I am going to be in the Top 10, then I would definitely have to taken advantage of that and go ahead and go to the NBA. But anything lower than that, then I would go to college to play. It will be a decision that I will have to sit down with my family and talked over with. Right now, we are just taking it one day at a time. I may be ready after my freshman year at State or maybe my sophomore season. But that stuff is hard to tell until I play against college competition.

"But I know that I have to get stronger and more physical to play in college, where I hope to play the three and maybe the two-guard later in my career. And to me, getting used to the physical part of it will be the biggest thing. But I love the way MSU's program is headed. Hopefully, with me and the other guys like Gary Ervin and (Jackie) Butler, then we can go to a couple of Final Fours right off the bat."

Outlaw is not allowed by rules to be contacted by the NBA scouts, however, contact can be made to the coaching staff or Outlaw's parent. But even first-year SHS coach Greg Carter thinks it is too early to tell.

"I did talk to a few NBA scouts during the season about Travis," said Carter, a former Bulldog player and assistant coach. "But none of them said anything definite as far as the draft goes. But I am sure they will keep watching him in the all-star games this month, but who knows what they are thinking right now."

Outlaw has been chosen to play in the McDonald's All-Star game as well as the Roundball Classic, both to be played later this month. Outlaw averaged 21 points, 13 rebounds and 6.5 blocks a game as a senior and really picked up his overall game.

"I thought Travis really shot the ball better this year and was consistent with his shooting," said Carter. "The biggest thing about his game this year was his balance, showing the ability to play inside and outside. Last year, he played more outside but he did both well this season.

"Once he gets stronger and learns the college game, he will be fine. He has gotten by on talent alone but he did a lot of the little things needed at the end of this season. He was a whole lot better by the time our year ended in Jackson."

Outlaw also noted that he is on schedule to graduate and be eligible as a freshman. Awaiting to take his initial ACT test in April, Outlaw has maintained a solid 2.5 GPA.

"I should qualify and my grades have really picked up this year," said Outlaw, a two-time Dandy Dozen selection. "I really worked hard in the class room this past year and I knew I had to because I didn't want to go to a junior college."

While rumors will fly a million times between now and May 12 about Outlaw's decision, it has not kept the newest bunch of MSU signees from already talking about their college futures.

"I talk to Gary every now and then, talking about when we get to college and stuff," said Outlaw. "We both like to run the floor and he likes to throw a lot of ally-oops, which I love to do."

And Ervin, who inked with State along with Outlaw in November, also noted that keeping in touch will help to smooth the transition from high school hoops to the college game.

"We talked a lot during the camps last summer, Travis, Butler and me," said Ervin, a former New York City Player of the Year who will participate in the Michael Jordan All-Star Classic. "And with us already knowing each other, I think that will help us to be more comfortable on the court when we are freshman at Mississippi State. I feel like I am already part of the team and with Mario back, the Bulldogs will stay among the national powers."


Paul Jones is a recruiting correspondent for Gene's Page. Paul, also a sports writer for the Starkville Daily News, can be reached by email at pdjmsu@hotmail.com


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