Ben Howland will be the next head coach at Mississippi State, sources told NBCSports.com. On Sunday morning, we reported that he was a serious candidate to replace Rick Ray in Starkville.
Howland is a terrific basketball coach, there’s no question about that. He won at Northern Arizona, he won at Pitt and he won at UCLA, going to three Final Fours and taking home a league title the year he was fired by the Bruins. He’s proven that he can not only play different styles of basketball, but that he can recruit all over the country. His final recruiting class at UCLA included a player from Las Vegas (Shabazz Muhammad), New Jersey (Kyle Anderson) and two from Georgia (Tony Parker and Jordan Adams).
The interesting aspect will be whether Howland can do what he’s done in the south, a region that he’s never coached. He is reportedly expected to hire Korey McCray, an assistant he hired while at UCLA that has strong ties in the south; he used to coach the Atlanta Celtics, a powerhouse AAU program.
The key for Howland will be tapping into the talent-rich recruiting pool in the area, which is likely a major reason he’s bringing McCray aboard. McCray helped the Bruins land Adams and Parker.
“There is a lot of talent to recruit in the 2017 class in the Deep South,” said Justin Young, who runs HoopSeen.com, a website dedicated to covering recruiting in the region. “It’s an attractive job with the in-state and regional talent.”
ESPN.com was the first to report that the two sides had agreed on a deal.