While Ben Howland’s Mississippi State Bulldogs fell short in their quest for an NCAA tournament berth, which would have been the program’s first since 2009, the 2017-18 season was a productive one. Mississippi State won 25 games and reached the semifinals of the Postseason NIT, and with many of the team’s top contributors having eligibility remaining the 2018-19 campaign sets up to be a promising one.
Tuesday afternoon it was announced that guards Lamar Peters, Nick Weatherspoon and Quinndary Weatherspoon and forward Aric Holman have all decided to return to school. All entered the 2018 NBA Draft without hiring an agent, thus keeping open the possibility of returning to school if they chose to do so.
Nick Weatherspoon, who averaged 10.8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game this past season, announced his decision to return to Starkville for his sophomore season just over a week ago.
Quinndary Weatherspoon was a second team All-SEC selection, averaging a team-best 14.4 points per game to go along with 6.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists. The 6-foot-10 Holman is a promising front court talent who led the Bulldogs in rebounding (6.7 rpg) while also scoring 10.9 points per game, and Peters was the team leader in assists with 4.5 per game.
As a result of Tuesday’s news Mississippi State will return its top seven scorers from 2017-18, and the program adds a solid recruiting class that includes four-star wing Robert Woodard III and junior college transfer Jethro Tshisumpa.
How good can Mississippi State be next season? At minimum a return to the NCAA tournament for the first time in a decade should be expected given the returning talent and newcomers joining the program. In order to make that a reality, and be a bigger factor in the SEC race, Mississippi State will have to manage expectations that will be at their highest point since Howland’s hiring.
And the non-conference schedule, which didn’t help the Bulldogs’ argument for an at-large bid in 2017-18, will need to be better. A series with BYU was announced Tuesday, and that should help the Bulldogs’ computer numbers.