Mississippi State Basketball Still Strong Despite Stapleton and Wright Transfers

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, KY - DECEMBER 12: Trevor Moore
HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, KY - DECEMBER 12: Trevor Moore /
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Mississippi State Basketball Loses Xavian Stapleton and Eli Wright

Welp, another offseason, another round of transfers for the Mississippi State basketball team.

While this is tough considering Eli Wright and Xavian Stapleton were solid contributors for the Bulldogs throughout most of this season, this does not have the same sting as the transfers of the last couple of years.

In the offseason of 2016, we saw highly touted Malik Newman leave for Kansas which really came to sting slightly seeing how well he played in helping lead the Jayhawks to a Final Four this year. In 2017, we were shocked to learn that Mario Kegler, one of the leading scorers for the team, was bolting to be a Baylor Bear.  Each of those players were the highest rated players of their respective recruiting classes and many worried a problem within the program was occurring.

Well, the 2018 season turned out to be a very strong season for the Bulldogs. A year where we were in the NCAA tournament conversation all the way to the end before making a deep run in the NIT. Stapleton and Wright were very good players, but when you begin to look towards next year, their roles were going to be very similar: bench depth.

Stapleton is a gritty player who even started down the stretch. However, many began to wonder and see that Howland might have been doing this to allow Holman to exploit the 2nd units of teams.

When the game was in the balance for the most part, Holman was on the court. Stapleton was in there to get rebounds and hustle plays, which every good team needs that type of player. Now, I loved to see him have a hot night from 3-point range on occasion but his lack of consistency and attitude led to some questionable plays that put MSU in tough situations late in games.

I really hate to see Wright go as he showed a lot of potential in his limited minutes. He is a great athlete who would seem to thrive in Howland’s open offense but could never gain enough momentum to steal significant minutes from Q, Nick, Lamar or Tyson who all play his position most of the time.

Plus, both players clearly saw the talent coming in from the 2018 recruiting class and knew minutes were going to only become more competitive.  Reggie Perry, a McDonald’s All American, will very likely start in the PF position that Stapleton enjoyed the final games of the year and Holman will most likely be the rotating player in that position with him.  Robert Woodard and DJ Stewart are two athletic wingers who can both play some SG and SF, much like Wright, so his minutes would have most likely shrunk if either of those two highly rated players come in and pick up the system quickly.

I wish nothing but the best for Xavian and Eli on their next opportunity at another school. They played their hearts out for the Bulldog nation and deserve our thanks. As far as the 2018-2019 version of the hardwood Dawgs goes though, I think we will be just fine.