The Malik Newman saga is over, and the Bulldogs have arguably the most significant recruit to ever commit to Mississippi State basketball. There have been other highly rated recruits to commit to the Bulldogs. Travis Outlaw, Monta Ellis, and Jonathan Bender all were headed to Starkville, but those were the days before the one and done rule. They bolted to the NBA after high school. Jamont Gordon was also a 5 star recruit, but wasn’t a consensus top 5 recruit. Renardo Sidney was as talented as they came, but if you need to relive that, then just click here.
So now that Newman is headed to Starkville, the dynamic of the Mississippi State basketball team has changed drastically. When Howland was hired, people thought the current roster was good enough to get to the NIT. But add Malik Newman to the roster, plus the second highest rated player in the state in Quinndary Weatherspoon, and likely JUCO forward Ray Kasongo could be added to the mix as well, and expectations have ratcheted up exponentially. You can make the argument that the team will revolve around the newest players in 2015-16, but the current players will certainly benefit from Newman and the other players. No one currently on the roster will benefit more than Gavin Ware.
Gavin Ware is a talented Power Forward, but in his previous three years, he has lacked any significant help down low. He averaged 10 points a game this year and just over 7 rebounds a game. The only other person on the team to even average more than 5 rebounds a game was Roquez Johnson. Part of the problem was the roster. Fallou Ndoye, Oliver Black, and Demetrius Houston were all inexperienced and raw. Those guys should be better, and Kasongo should be sign, is expected to bring immediate help as well.
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But what made life most difficult for Ware was the inability for the Bulldogs to score from the perimeter. As a team, the Bulldogs only shot 30.6% from three point range, and 43% from the field. The offense had no life or rhythm except when the defense caused a turnover and the Bulldogs were able to get out in transition.
Malik Newman and Quindarry Weatherspoon are both talented shooters. Their presence alone will open up the perimeter because teams will not be able to sag into a zone. There were games this past season where the opposition just sat in a zone and waited for the Bulldogs to shoot their way out of it, and they never could. Newman and Weatherspoon will force opposing defenses to come out and guard them. Doing so will open up the floor for Gavin Ware to operate.
Coach Howland has said that he thinks Gavin Ware could be a special player. He had nothing but good things to say to the Brick City Dawgs about Ware. Expecting Gavin Ware to improve so much he becomes and NBA Lottery Pick is way overdoing it, but I would not be shocked at all to see him grow enough to at least get a contract to play overseas. And dealing with all the losses of the past three years, I’d love to see that for the talented big man.