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).