After last season, a lot of speculation surrounded the Mississippi State basketball program.
The Bulldogs lost 10 of their last 13 SEC games, starter Mario Kegler transferred to Baylor to play under Scott Drew, and Eli Wright considered transferring out for a few weeks before ultimately opting to return to Starkville.
The unquestioned leader throughout that entire period was Quinndary Weatherspoon.
Weatherspoon is the heart and soul of the Mississippi State program, and it really shows on the court. He led the Bulldogs in points, assists, steals, minutes, and usage rate, while being third in rebounding, which shows Ben Howland’s trust level toward his star player.
Weatherspoon is also known for his hyper-athleticism, which has been on display many times throughout his first two years with the Bulldogs.
Look for Weatherspoon to have another solid season alongside sophomore Lamar Peters and incoming freshman Nick Weatherspoon (yes, Quinndary’s brother) in the Bulldog backcourt.
Inside the Numbers
While the stats show that Weatherspoon is a polished offensive superstar already in his young career, there is still plenty of room for improvement in his defensive play, both on and off the ball.
His defensive rating, or the estimated amount of points allowed while he is on the floor, normalized to 100 possessions, ranked 37th in the SEC last season amongst players with 15 or more minutes per game.
His rating was very similar to former Georgia guard J.J. Frazier and former Kentucky standout Malik Monk, who were not necessarily defensive savants.
If Weatherspoon wants to take his game to the next level, becoming more spatially aware and more fleet of foot laterally on the defensive end will definitely help in making him an elite two-way player in the SEC next season.
Weatherspoon has long been regarded by some as one of the elite players in the SEC.
His scoring and playmaking ability cannot be understated in Mississippi State’s system. With that scoring ability and the loss of offensive pacesetter I.J. Ready, Weatherspoon will likely average over 20 points per game at a very high level of efficiency.
If he can step up his defense and combine that with his already established consistency with the ball, there is no reason to believe that Mississippi State can’t compete for a first-round bye at the SEC Tournament.
And potentially, in the extreme best case, he could be the driving force that allows the Bulldogs to compete for an NCAA Tournament bid.