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May 18, 2005

State's new hoops class just knows how to win

While Mississippi State has had an unprecedented four straight 20-win seasons and four straight NCAA bids, next year's team will have a completely different look. After losing all five starters, the Bulldogs find themselves needing to reload in a hurry. Winning is as much an attitude as anything, so when going into the high school ranks, State was looking for winning players, as well as stellar athletes, and this class does not disappoint. Even though the gem of the class opted for the NBA, the six that will be in Starkville in the fall rank at the top of anybody's list.

Now that the ink is starting to dry, Mississippi State is looking at one of the best classes in its history. Included on the list is at least one player at every position, including a center, a power forward, a small forward, a point guard, a shooting guard, and a combo guard, so every need has been filled to at least some extent.

The athleticism of the class has been the aspect most people talk about, and for good reason. Even with the loss of one five-star player to the NBA in Monta Ellis, the staff has learned from previous experiences with Jonathan Bender and Travis Outlaw that is always necessary to have a "Plan B." With one five-star player, three four-star players and two three-star signees, their Plan B rivals most of the Plan As across the country.

While the athleticism is very important, the mindset is equally important and the State coaches wanted a group of athletes that they didn't have to teach how to win. They wanted proven winners from proven winning programs and that is exactly what they got, and keep in mind, this is a class that is missing what many classify as its star player.

  • Jamont Gordon was the leading scorer on the USA Today No. 1 high school team in the nation.

  • Reginald Delk and Richard Delk led their team back-to-back state championship games in Tennessee's best classification.

  • Jeremy Wise was the leading scorer on Mississippi's 5A championship team.

  • Bernard Rimmer was an integral part of a team that won the New England prep title for first time in North Bridgeton's school history.

So with the goal of gaining athletic players with winning mentalities, this class would have to get a five-star rating in anybody's book, with or without Ellis. Stay tuned for in-depth analysis of each player by Bulldog assistant hoops coach Phil Cunningham.

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