Coach: Rick Stansbury
2003-04 Record: 26-4, 14-2 SEC
New Players (rankings from PrepStars)
|Jamall Edmondson||5-9||JUCO||Best of the Rest|
When 6-9 Lawrence Roberts (right, photo by Bryan Hufalar) decided to withdraw from the NBA draft, Mississippi State got back the SEC Player of the Year, as well as the team's leading scorer and rebounder from last year. Teaming with him underneath the boards will be 7-0 Marcus Campbell or Charles Rhodes, depending on the balance between the need for speed or backboard/defensive domination. Shane Power (6-4), the best three-pointer shooter in the conference, and the active Winsome Frazier (6-4) return to man the wings. Point guard falls into the hands of the very capable Gary Ervin (5-11), with Jamall Edmondson to back him up. Two freshmen, two sophomores (6-3 Dietric Slater and 6-9 Piotr Stelmach), and 7-2 junior Wesley Morgan provide depth.
Power, Frazier, Ervin, and Edmondson provide good outside shooting. Roberts, Frazier, and Ervin will take the ball to the basket. Roberts, Rhodes, and Campbell will get a lot of points from beneath. There is a lot of scoring punch available.
Rebounding and Defense
These may be State's strongest areas. In general, the Bulldogs dominated the boards against their opponents last season, but they did lose powerful Branden Vincent, so Campbell and Rhodes will have to take up some slack. Vincent was also the team's leading shot blocker, but Campbell is strong in that area and will play more minutes this year. Ervin and Edmondson will be pesky outside defenders and the others are solid.
With the redoubtable Timmy Bowers gone, who will take over team leadership? That shouldn't be a problem with four seniors and Ervin on the team. Ervin will distribute the ball at least as well as Bowers. Depth appears to be good. Barring the unforeseen, State should have no major problem areas.
Overall Prospects for 2004-05
The Bulldogs finished less well in 2003-04 than expected, mainly because of an injury to Roberts. With better depth this year, they will be a solid team that should once again win the Western Division of the SEC, warding off a challenge from Alabama, and will have more success in the SEC and NCAA tournaments. Mississippi State is selected here to be the best team in the entire Southeastern Conference.