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Guard Malik Newman to leave Mississippi State

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In the aftermath of Malik Newman’s decision to withdraw his name from the 2016 NBA Draft, there were rumblings that he would not be returning to the Mississippi State program. Monday afternoon it was learned that Newman would transfer, with the news first being reported by CBSSports.com.

A top ten prospect in the Class of 2015, Newman was viewed as the crown jewel in Ben Howland’s first recruiting class at Mississippi State. Things didn’t work out as anticipated however, with Newman being hampered some by injuries throughout the course of the season. The Mississippi native averaged 11.3 points, 2.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game last season, but he did so shooting just 39.1 percent from the field and 37.9 percent from three.

There’s also the question of what Newman’s role would be in 2016-17 to consider with regards to this decision. After not having a great amount of depth on the perimeter last season, that won’t be the case for the Bulldogs next season. I.J. Ready and Quinndary Weatherspoon are among the returnees, and Mississippi State adds a talented crop of newcomers that includes four-star guards Tyson Carter, Lamar Peters and Eli Wright.

Mississippi State also adds highly regarded wing Mario Kegler, and Louisiana Tech transfer Xavian Stapleton will be available after sitting out last season.With all of those additions, a feature role for Newman likely would have been tough to come by in 2016-17.

In an interview with the Clarion-Ledger, Newman’s father Horatio Webster (who played at Mississippi State) cited trust issues between Newman and Howland as the biggest reason behind the decision to transfer.

Newman, a player who many thought wouldn’t be in college for more than a season, will look for someplace else to call home.

VIDEOS: University of Mary’s Devan Douglas wins college dunk contest

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Thursday night the annual State Farm College Slam and 3-Point Championships were held in Cypress, Texas, with the event serving as a “kickoff” event of sorts to Final Four weekend. The winner of the slam dunk contest came from the Division II ranks, as University of Mary’s Devan Douglas took home the championship belt.

With his first dunk Douglas jumped over IPFW’s Max Landis and threw down a two-handed dunk. Douglas proved to be the most consistent dunker on the night, and there were times when it appeared as if he would hit his head on the rim.

UNLV’s Ike Nwamu finished second in the dunk contest, with two of his better dunks being his opening round between the legs dunk and a Vince Carter-inspired windmill in which he finished with his arm inside of the rim.

The best missed dunk came courtesy of Mississippi State’s Craig Sword, who attempted to jump over the Denny’s pancake mascot. Sword was unsuccessful on three attempts, with the pancake looking better equipped to take a charge than serve as a prop.

And his heels were inside the restricted area, so it would have been a block if we’re being completely serious about this.

The men’s and women’s three-point contests were also held Thursday night, with Georgia Tech’s Adam Smith and Minnesota’s Rachel Banham winning the respective titles. And in the matchup of champions that followed, Banham edged out Smith to take home a second trophy on the night.

Mississippi State’s leading scorer out 4-6 weeks, JuCo transfer done for season

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All is well with the Mississippi State football program in mid-October as the nation’s new No. 1 team. The men’s basketball team, however, is off to a bit of a rough start in the first few weeks of practice.

The school announced on Monday that last season’s top scorer Craig Sword will need to undergo surgery on a bulging disk in his back. The 6-foot-3 will miss 4-6 weeks, meaning even at the earliest, he’d still have little to no room to prepare for the team’s season opener.

As a sophomore, Sword averaged 13.7 points, 3.8 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game. He was one of two Bulldogs — forward Gavin Ware being the other — to average double figures last year.

The press release also announced that 6-foot-9 three-star junior college transfer Johnny Zuppardo will miss the entire 2014-2015 season due to a torn ACL and meniscus. Zuppardo averaged 15.2 points and 6.9 rebounds per game last season at Jones County Junior College (Mississippi).

Mississippi State, which finished last in the SEC last season, opens the 2014-2015 campaign on Nov. 14 at home against Western Carolina.

Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray apologizes for cursing at Marshall Henderson

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With 6.3 seconds remaining, Ole Miss guard Marshall Henderson exited the floor with the Rebels holding a sizable lead over in-state rival Mississippi State.

Henderson headed to the bench jawing it up, whether it was to his teammates or two his opponents I’m not sure. Either way Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray wasn’t pleased and let Henderson know it. I’ll let you all guess as to what he said.

Following Mississippi State’s 82-63 loss on the road at Ole Miss, Ray issued a statement, apologizing to Henderson for his actions. The statement, sent from the coach’s Instagram account read:

 “I responded inappropriately to an Ole Miss player yesterday in our game. I reached out to Coach Kennedy immediately to apologize and subsequently to the player too. There is no reason for a coach to ever have interaction with an opposing player, ever, regardless of he circumstances. I was upset more with our performance than the player, I was totally at fault.”

Ray is right, he was at fault, but it was a classy gesture to acknowledge his mistake and offering an apology. And it did seem likely that he was more frustrated with his team than with Henderson. But let’s face it, Henderson is a pretty easy person to direct your frustration toward. Ironically, this incident between Henderson and an SEC opponent came almost to the day of his infamous interaction with the Auburn fan section last year.

Hopefully this doesn’t overshadow the work Ray has done with the Bulldogs. In his second season, Mississippi State currently has three more wins this season than it had in the entire 2012-2013 campaign.

Mississippi State and Ole Miss split the season series this year.

Jalen Steele’s career at Mississippi State is over (UPDATED)

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After three seasons that included multiple injuries Jalen Steele decided his playing career at Mississippi State is over, the school announced on Tuesday.

The 6-foot-3 guard from Knoxville, Tenn., entered Starkville as a three-start commit. However, during his stint in a Bulldogs uniform he has suffered a broken wrist and most recently a torn ACL back in March in a loss to South Carolina. That season-ending injury — a phrase MSU was all to familiar with hearing this past season — came a month after Steele was suspended indefinitely, which sidelined him for three games.

“What Jalen has experienced with injuries has been extremely unfortunate,” Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray said in a statement. “He’s battled through a lot of adversity, and it’s important we do everything we can to support and help him earn his degree from Mississippi State.”

In 18 games this season, Steele averaged 10.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. He will stay and focus on graduating this spring, according to the university.

[UPDATE]

As seen above, the school announced that Steele had made the choice to end his playing career. Though according to Steele’s Twitter account that is not the case:

NCAA declares Mississippi State freshman Fallou Ndoye a partial qualifier

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After going through his first season at Mississippi State with a thin roster, things are starting to look up for head coach Rick Ray.

The Bulldogs have four verbal commitment in the 2014 recruiting class and two more in 2015, and the program received more good news regarding the status of 6-11 center Fallou Ndoye. After originally fearing that Ndoye wouldn’t be cleared to join the program, the school announced Friday that the NCAA has been ruled to be a partial qualifier.

Ndoye won’t be able to help the Bulldogs in games, but his status as a partial qualifier allows the Findlay Prep product to not only practice with the team but also receive an athletic scholarship. Ndoye, who averaged seven points and seven rebounds per game on a team that went 35-1 last season, will be allowed to play in games at the start of the 2014-15 season.

“The NCAA Eligibility Center did the right thing by granting Fallou this waiver,” coach Ray said in the release. “All the young man has ever done is successfully complete the course work at his schools.

“Our compliance department did a terrific job in presenting this case to the NCAA and staying on top of the situation. This upcoming season will be extremely beneficial for Fallou’s development.”

Ndoye’s development in 2012-13 will include daily practice sessions against fellow big men Colin Borchert, Wendell Lewis and Gavin Ware, with Lewis returning after playing just eight games due to a fractured right kneecap. Lewis’ injury meant that Ware was asked to a lot more in the paint for Mississippi State, and he responded to the tune of 8.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game.

For his efforts Ware was an SEC All-Freshman Team selection, as was guard Craig Sword (10.5 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.3 apg). Mississippi State may once again take their lumps in 2013-14, but with their numbers growing things are starting to look up in Starkville.