Key Losses: C Marcus Campbell (6.0 ppg, 5.0 rpg), G Gary Ervin (7.4 ppg, 4.7 apg), G Winsome Frazier (12.3 ppg, 3.5 rpg), F Ontario Harper (8.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg), G/F Shane Power (11.1 ppg, 4.1 rpg), F Lawrence Roberts (16.9 ppg, 11.0 rpg)
Postseason: NCAA: Defeated Stanford 93–70, lost to Duke 63–55 in the second round
Jackson, TN/North Side
Jackson, TN/North Side
Brooklyn, NY/Lutheran Christian (PA) Academy
Nashville, TN/Oak Hill (VA) Academy
Memphis, TN/Redshirt 2004-05
Grenada, MS/Bridgton (ME) Academy
The six-player recruiting class will be asked to make a major contribution right away. Highlighting this group are Gordon and Reginald Delk, a pair of guards, and Goodridge, a power forward/center rated among the top 50 players in the nation. Gordon is an explosive athlete who led national powerhouse Oak Hill Academy in scoring last season with 18.9 points per game. Rimmer, a spring signee, is a Mississippi native who spent a year at prep school in Maine. The Delks are nephews of former Kentucky guard Tony Delk.
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Rebuilding or reloading? That's the question at Mississippi State this season. With the top six scorers gone from last year's 23-11 club which reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament, the Bulldogs will have an entirely new look in 2005-06.
The most visible loss in Starkville will be All-America forward Lawrence Roberts, but Winsome Frazier and Shane Power, a pair of savvy veteran perimeter players, will be nearly as difficult to replace.
"It's very obvious we will be a new team and a very young team," coach Rick Stansbury says. "We know up front we are very young. But we have an opportunity to mix in guys with little experience with new players with no experience. It's a new start, but I like our enthusiasm and athleticism."
The loss of Roberts and serviceable center Marcus Campbell leaves Mississippi State with some serious issues up front.
Stepping into starting roles will likely be two players who combined for just 30 points in SEC play last season, sophomore power forward Charles Rhodes and senior center Wesley Morgan. Rhodes was a promising recruit who struggled early as a freshman but showed promise as the season progressed.
"No question we saw Charles step up the latter part of the season," Stansbury says. "He has great athleticism and quickness and has the ability to block shots and do a lot of things."
The 7-2 Morgan started one game last season and averaged 1.9 points and 1.9 rebounds. It was the energy he brought to the game that pleased Stansbury the most, particularly at Arkansas late in the year when he scored eight points and grabbed five rebounds in a key win.
The rest of State's interior options have a combined 152 minutes of collegiate basketball experience, all by junior Piotr Stelmach. Stelmach will battle redshirt freshman Jerrell Houston and incoming freshmen Vernon Goodridge and Bernard Rimmer for minutes in the paint.
"We have options," Stansbury says. "Jerrell can help us. He's long and lanky and is a great offensive rebounder, but he hasn't played in a year.
"Piotr helped us early, but we weren't able to get him into the rotation late in the year. I'm also excited about our freshmen. They have a lot of athleticism and ability. They'll have a chance to play, but again they are freshmen."
Stansbury was also counting on talented sophomore Walter Sharpe. However, Sharpe isn't academically eligible for the fall and his status is uncertain for the spring semester.
Not only did the Bulldogs lose Frazier and Power, the team's two leading 3-point weapons, but also point guard Gary Ervin, who transferred to Arkansas.
But as is the case with his forwards, Stansbury feels he has options, starting with Jamall Edmondson at the point.
Last season, Edmondson played in 32 games, starting four. He averaged 4.8 points and showed the propensity to knock down 3-pointers, hitting 36.9 percent. But the question is: With the loss of Frazier and Power, who will Edmondson deliver the ball to on the perimeter? More than likely, it will be a rotation featuring junior Dietric Slater and incoming freshmen Jamont Gordon, Jeremy Wise and twins Reginald and Richard Delk. "Richard has a very bright future and a lot of potential," Stansbury says. "Jamont brings a physical and mental toughness you don't see in a lot of freshmen. And then there's Jeremy, who can put the ball on the floor and create off the dribble."
Stansbury also says junior Michael Boler has an opportunity to figure into the mix.
Due to the exodus of so many players, wins will be harder to come by this season in Starkville. Stansbury has some talent to work with, but the Bulldogs are painfully young and inexperienced. No player on the roster has averaged more than 5.0 points per game.
A program that averaged 24.3 victories over the past four years - more than any SEC team other than Kentucky - will likely struggle to reach the .500 mark in 2005-06.