In this week's Basketball Recruiting Roundup, we continue our 10-part series breaking down the nation's Top 10 hoop recruiting classes.
In the previous weeks, we tackled No. 1 Kansas, No. 2 Duke, No. 3 North Carolina, No. 4 Oklahoma State, No. 5 Washington, No. 6 Louisville and No. 7 Georgia. Now it's time to move on to No. 8:
8. Mississippi State
With three straight NCAA Tournament appearances, Mississippi State has built a reputation as one of the top hoop teams in the SEC over the past few seasons.
But with the Bulldogs' top three scorers — Lawrence Roberts, Winsome Frazier and Shane Power — graduating this year, Mississippi State needs an influx of talent to maintain that rep next year.
Luckily for the Bulldogs, coach Rick Stansbury landed a stellar recruiting class that includes two Top 50 recruits and four potential impact players. Lanier (Miss.) shooting guard Monta Ellis and Lutheran Christian (Pa.) center Vernon Goodridge are both elite prospects, while North Side (Tenn.) twin guards Richard Delk and Reginald Delk both rank just outside the SchoolSports.com Top 100.
The key to this class — and yet also the biggest question mark — is Ellis, who is ranked the No. 9 recruit in the Class of 2005 by SchoolSports.com. Ellis has seen his already-high stock skyrocket this season after averaging better than 40 points per game and coming up big in a couple games against nationally ranked opponents.
That should be good news for the Bulldogs, as Ellis projects as an instant impact player at the college level. But his stellar senior season has also raised his NBA stock, and he's on the short list of high schoolers who might try a leap straight to the pros.
Sadly for Mississippi State, the Bulldogs have been here before. Travis Outlaw (2003) and Jonathan Bender (1999) both signed with Mississippi State before opting for the NBA.
If Ellis does forgo college and go straight to the league, the Bulldogs' recruiting class would obviously take a major hit. In that event, Mississippi State's fortunes might rest upon Goodridge, who is rated the No. 50 recruit in the Class of 2005.
A 6-foot-10, 220-pound center, Goodridge is an athletic big man who can make an immediate impact blocking shots and grabbing rebounds. His offense is raw, but he's only been playing the game for a few years and has tremendous upside.
The Delk twins, both of whom are 6-foot-5 guards, will help shore up the Bulldogs' backcourt depth, especially if Ellis decides to go pro. Richard runs the point, while Reginald is a big-time scorer on the wing.
Both are extremely athletic and can play multiple positions. And they are nephews of NBA guard Tony Delk, so they have notable basketball bloodlines.
Check back next week for our breakdown of the No. 9 recruiting class from Memphis.