Mississippi State continues to be one of the big stories in recruiting the Class of 2016 as Ben Howland and the Bulldogs landed four-star big man Abdulhakim Ado on Monday night, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com.
The addition of the 6-foot-10 Ado means that Howland has overhauled the Mississippi State roster very quickly as Ado becomes the sixth four-star prospect to commit to the Bulldogs in the 2016 class. Regarded as the No. 73 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Ado is a defensive specialist and one of the best rebounders and shot blockers in the national class. While Howland was quick to add a lot of talented guards early in his 2016 pursuits, adding Ado and fellow four-star big man Schnider Herard the last few weeks helps stabilize the future front court for Mississippi State.
Ado and Herard are joined by four-star wing Mario Kegler, as well as four-star guards Tyson Carter, Lamar Peters and Eli Wright. Howland and his staff have put together a no-brainer top-10 national recruiting class during his first full season of recruiting at the SEC program and this class certainly sends notice that Howland is still a force to be reckoned with on the recruiting trail.
Mississippi State has yet to officially play a game with head coach Ben Howland at the helm, but his arrival in Starkville continues to pay dividends on the recruiting trail. Wednesday afternoon the Bulldogs received another important commitment, as 6-foot-7 four-star wing Mario Kegler announced at Oak Hill Academy that he’ll play his college basketball at Mississippi State.
Kegler, a native of Mississippi, was also considering Indiana and Maryland but ultimately decided that the chance to play in his home state was too much to pass up. Kegler is ranked 29th in the Class of 2016 by Rivals.com, and he’s the fifth commitment in the class for Mississippi State.
It’s a class that checks off all of the boxes from a need standpoint. Four-star guard Tyson Carter and Lamar Peters are players expected to have an immediate impact, and the same goes for wings Kegler and Eli Wright and big man Schnider Herard. This is a highly talented group for a program that hasn’t experienced much success since the departure of Rick Stansbury, which goes to show the impact that Howland and his staff have had on the program since their arrival in the spring.
In addition to the five recruits the Bulldogs will add Louisiana Tech transfer Xavian Stapleton, who’s also rehabbing from a torn ACL while sitting out this season. Mississippi State will lose four seniors at the end of the 2014-15 season, and many expect elite freshman guard Malik Newman to head to the NBA after just one season.
Mississippi State is also a finalist for talented power forward De’Ron Davis, who’s scheduled to announce his college decision on Thursday, and Abdulhakim Ado is another interior prospect they’re currently pursuing.
As part of his first press conference of the new school year, Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland announced that one of his freshman will be sidelined for health reasons. Freshman forward Joe Struggs, who enrolled at Mississippi State in August, won’t be available to the team for the next two months due to a bone issue in both of his shins according to the Clarion-Ledger.
Given the timeline provided by Howland on Thursday, Struggs would be back in time for the start of the regular season if everything goes according to plan with his recovery. However, for a team that doesn’t have a lot of depth in the front court Struggs’ injury takes away another option for competition in the weeks leading up to the start of practices in early October and the regular season in November.
Struggs’ injury is the latest that Mississippi State’s had to deal with, as Louisiana Tech transfer Xavian Stapleton (he had to sit out this upcoming season anyway) was lost to a torn ACL last month and three other players underwent surgery this offseason with big man Fallou Ndoye (right wrist) being one of those three.
For a team that doesn’t have a lot of depth inside, with senior Gavin Ware being their most productive option, another injury doesn’t help matters as Mississippi State looks to turn things around in the SEC.