Rick Stansbury has brought some great talent to Starkville over the years. Players like Charles Rhodes, Rodney Hood, Jamont Gordon, Dee Bost, Renardo Sidney, Ravern Johnson, Mario Austin, etc. were all highly-touted recruits that played at Mississippi State. And then there are some players that committed to State but didn’t make it to campus for one reason or another. This “best that never was” team compiles the best players who may have made a huge difference in the success of past MSU teams, but they never made it to Starkvegas.
G – Monta Ellis – Parade Magazine High School Player of the Year from Jackson, MS. He was committed to MSU’s 2005 class, but entered the NBA draft where he was selected 40th overall (2nd round). He is in his 7th year with the Golden State Warriors where he has had a very successful pro career. For his career Ellis has 19.4 PPG and 4.2 APG. He was named the NBA’s most improved player in 2007.
F – Travis Outlaw – He played in Starkville, but at the SHS gym and not the Hump. The Portland Trail Blazers took him with the 23rd overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft. He has achieved moderate success during his 9+ year pro career. Outlaw spent his first seven years with the Trail Blazers and then one year with the Clippers, Nets and now Kings. For his career, he has 9.5 PPG and 3.5 RPG.
F – Kei Madison – 6′-9″ double-double machine from Columbiana, AL. He played on the same junior college team (Okaloosa-Walton) as Brandon Vincent. They were scheduled to come to State in the same 2002 class but Madison opted for the NBA draft. Needless to say he went undrafted and bounced around the world playing basketball for the rest of the decade. Same size and production as Vincent, would have been nice to have on the 2003 & 2004 teams.
C/F – Jackie Butler – 6′-10″ 260 from McComb, MS. He was committed to State in the 2003 class but failed to qualify academically. After a year in prep school he entered the NBA draft but was not selected. Still, he managed to play parts of three seasons with the Knicks and Spurs averaging 5 points and 3 rebounds per game.
C/F – Johnathon Bender – A seven footer from Picayune, MS. He was scheduled to be apart of the 1999 class but opted for the NBA instead. The Toronto Raptors drafted him with the 5th overall pick and then quickly traded him to the Indiana Pacers. He played seven years with the Pacers but injuries forced an early retirement. Bender made a comeback with the Knicks in 2009-10 and played in 25 games. For his career, Bender averaged 5.5 PPG and 2.2 RPG…he is considered one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history. But it’s likely he would’ve been a great college player.
F – Wojciech Barycz – After Michal Ignerski has a successful career at MSU, there looked to be a pipeline for Polish players coming to State. It looked as though Barycz was prepared to come but he opted to stay in Europe instead. He’s had a lengthy Euro basketball career.