SEC Mississippi St Tennessee Basketball

Mississippi State is a popular destination for Carver-Montgomery players

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At one point last season, Mississippi State and head coach Rick Ray had five scholarship players available due to transfers, players turning pro, suspensions and a rash of injuries. So far this offseason, they’ve started to it turn around personnel-wise, and their 2014 class got a boost Monday from a school that’s very familiar with the Bulldogs’ program.

Demetrius Houston gave his verbal pledge to Ray. With that, the Montgomery (Ala.) George Washington Carver High School product became the fourth player from the school to commit to the Mississippi State program in recent years.

The 6-6 small forward joins 2015 Montgomery-Carver (what the local writers refer to it as) Bulldog commit Josh Struggs and current Mississippi State players Craig Sword and Roquez Johnson as guys who have made the trip from Montgomery to Starkville to play college basketball. Sword, a sophomore-to-be, was the team’s leading scorer last year, while Johnson, who will be a junior this upcoming season, averaged 8.8 points and 4.5 rebounds in 2012-13. He was also suspended three games for a violation of team rules.

That gives Carver-Montgomery at least one Mississippi State commitment in the 2011, 2012, 2014 and 2015 classes — meaning Carver-Montgomery didn’t have a senior on its 2013 roster, obviously.

Houston is rated as high as a three-star recruit by some scouting services and is the second overall commitment for Mississippi State for 2014, joining shooting guard Maurice Dunlap.

As far as the future is concerned, the Bulldogs have the aforementioned Sword (a team-leading 10.5 points per game) and Johnson returning, along with Jalen Steele (10.1 ppg) and pretty much everyone else that matters. But Houston will an integral part of a class that will have to replace Steele and possibly a few others after next season.

I guess if something works, you stick with it, right?

Follow David Harten on Twitter at @David_Harten

WATCH LIVE: James Madison battles UNC-Wilmington on NBCSN

James Madison guard Shakir Brown, left, drives past Hofstra forward Denton Koon (12) during the first half of an NCAA basketball game in Harrisonburg, Va., Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. (Daniel Lin/Daily News-Record via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT
(Daniel Lin/Daily News-Record via AP)
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Two of the top teams in the CAA battle on Saturday afternoon as James Madison travels to UNC-Wilmington. You can catch this matchup live on NBCSN at 3 p.m. EST.

UNC-Wilmington (19-5, 11-2) is currently the class of the conference as they hold a two-game lead over James Madison, William & Mary and Hofstra. The Seahawks have won 10 consecutive games and they’re led by guard Chris Flemmings, who is averaging 16.6 points per game and 6.2 rebounds per game.

James Madison (19-7, 9-4) has won three consecutive games as they try to make up ground on UNC-Wilmington. Guard Ron Curry leads the Dukes in points (16.8 ppg) and assists (3.9 apg) as he’s having a very solid season.

These two teams played on Jan. 28 with UNC-Wilmington winning 78-73 on the road.

CLICK HERE to watch these games on NBC Sports Live Extra Saturday afternoon.

VIDEO: Winthrop’s Keon Johnson goes coast-to-coast for buzzer-beater

Winthrop's Keon Johnson (5) shoots a layup while defended by Coastal Carolina's Warren Gillis during the first half of the Big South Conference Championship college basketball game Sunday, March 8, 2015, in Conway, S.C. Coastal Carolina won 81-70. (AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
(AP Photo/Richard Shiro)
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Winthop earned a Big South road win at Radford on Saturday afternoon as junior guard Keon Johnson raced coast-to-coast and buried the game-winner at the buzzer.

The 5-foot-7 Johnson erupted for 32 points in the win and he’s been one of the most potent mid-major scorers in the country this season. The win moves Winthrop to 18-7 on the season and their 10-4 mark in the Big South ties them with UNC Asheville atop the conference standings.

(H/T: LiveonASN)