Monday morning Mississippi State head coach Rick Ray made his first appearance on an SEC basketball coaches' teleconference. And it didn't take long for Ray to state the obvious concerning his 2012-13 roster.
“Well, we’ll have a brand new team,” Ray said.
Currently, Ray has a total of four players on campus with returnees Wendell Lewis, Shaun Smith, Kris Ziedaks and 2012 signee Colin Borchert. Next month, veteran Jalen Steele rejoins his teammates on campus along with sophomore Roquez Johnson.
Also arriving on campus in July will be a total of six 2012 signees - Jacoby Davis, Gavin Ware, Fred Thomas, Craig Sword, Andre Applewhite and Trivante Bloodman
Of course, with the NCAA now allowing more summer work between players and coaches, Ray and his staff are still able to get a lot accomplished this offseason.
“I think one of the huge advantages we have now with the new rule is we’re able to workout those guys,” Ray said. “If you were to ask me that question without that, I’d be a little concerned about it. This gives us the opportunity to get things going right away, rather than later.”
Concerning the lone 2012 signee on campus, Ray said he expect juco transfer Borchert to immediately challenge for a starting spot, especially with Ziedaks forced to sit the first nine games due to NCAA suspension.
“Colin, I expect him to go out there and challenge for a starting forward spot. We need someone who can challenge Roquez for that starting four spot right away,” Ray said. “I think Colin gives us that ability to make three pointers at that spot, which will be big for us.”
Also concerning the 2012-13 post play, Ray said that Ware could challenge Lewis at the center position but added that Ware has shown in the past to add some "unnecessary weight". Of course, arriving next month Ray said the training staff and coaches will obviously keep a close eye on that situation with Ware.
Ray also said during Monday's SEC teleconference that he expects Steele and Lewis to earn starting roles and be two of the team's top leaders.
“The big thing with those guys is they’re at the top of the scouting report, instead of the bottom of the page,” Ray said. “Pretty much now if Jalen and Wendell struggle for us offensively, it’s gonna be hard to win that basketball game.
“I think Jalen has a little bit more flavor for being out there in crunch time."