In late June 6-foot-9 senior center Wendell Lewis was granted a fifth year of eligibility by the Southeastern Conference, a move that was supposed to give Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray some added experience in the paint in 2013-14. Lewis played in just eight games last season before fracturing the patella in his right knee, with the injury occurring after a two-game stretch in which Lewis accounted for 20 points and 16 rebounds.
“We are pleased that the SEC has granted Wendell another year of eligibility,” Ray said in June. “I really believe that Wendell needed another year in our program to improve on the court because he was just beginning to make strides right before his injury after coming off two straight games where he scored career highs. This move is beneficial for both Wendell and our basketball program.”
Unfortunately for Lewis he’s played his last game as a Bulldog, with Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com reporting on Thursday that Lewis has been dismissed from the program. Lewis is the second Bulldogs to be ruled out for the 2013-14 season in the last month, with guard Jalen Steele seeing injuries play a role in his Mississippi State career coming to a premature end in mid-September.
In the eight games Lewis played in last season he averaged 8.1 points and 4.9 rebounds per contest, more than doubling his scoring average from the 2011-12 campaign (3.8 ppg). His season-ending injury was just one of the many blows the Bulldogs incurred in the first season of Ray’s tenure in Starkville. The lack of depth did the Bulldogs (10-22, 4-14 SEC) no favors last season, and with Lewis no longer in the fold that could once again be a concern entering the 2013-14 campaign.
Inside the Bulldogs return senior Colin Borchert (9.0, 5.0), junior Roquez Johnson (8.8, 4.5) and sophomore Gavin Ware (8.4, 6.4), with Ware coming off of a season in which he was named to the SEC’s All-Freshman Team. All three were productive last season, but Lewis’ dismissal puts the Bulldogs in a spot where they can ill afford to lose any of their three remaining interior options (signee Fallou Ndoye has to sit out the 2013-14 season but will be eligible to play next year).
Sunday evening Creighton got on the board in the Class of 2016, as 6-foor-4 combo guard Davion Mintz made his pledge to Greg McDermott’s program. Mintz made the decision on the tail end of his official visit to Creighton, picking the Bluejays over Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Tulsa and Wichita State.
News of Mintz’s commitment was first reported by Rick Lewis of the Phenom Hoop Report, with Mintz confirming the news via Twitter shortly thereafter.
Creighton has just two seniors on its current roster in guard Jams Milliken and forward Geoffrey Groselle, but that doesn’t mean they lack for experience. Among the guards on the roster who will be around when Mintz arrives on campus are redshirt juniors Maurice Watson Jr., Malik Albert, and Isaiah Zierden, and Kansas State transfer Marcus Foster will be eligible in 2016-17.
Mintz, who attends North Mecklenberg HS just outside of Charlotte, can play either on or off the basketball. Creighton’s veteran guards should help Mintz with his transition to the college game when he arrives in Omaha in 2016. Mintz played for the Charlotte Nets grassroots program this summer.
Three days after landing one power forward in Sagaba Konate, West Virginia received a verbal commitment from another big man Sunday evening.
6-foot-11 Mountain Mission School (Gurndy, Virginia) power forward Maciej Bender became the Mountaineers’ fourth commitment in the Class of 2016 on Sunday, with the Mountain Mission program announcing the news via Twitter. Bender is a native of Poland, and in addition to Konate he joins guards Brandon Knapper and Chase Harler in West Virginia’s 2016 recruiting class.
West Virginia will lose two forwards in TyQuane Goard and Jonathan Holton at the end of the 2015-16 season, and the additions of Konate and Bender will help the Mountaineers account for those departures from a depth standpoint. Bender can score around the basket, but he’s also capable of facing up and scoring in pick-and-pop situations out beyond the three-point line.
Bender officially visited West Virginia last weekend, and he was a player the WVU coaching staff wanted to get in the fold. Other programs to offer Bender included Arizona State (teammate Jethro Tshisumpa is an ASU commit), Georgia, Georgia Tech, Ole Miss and Providence. Bender played his grassroots basketball for the West Virginia Wildcats program this summer.