Upon returning from Maui and while preparing for tomorrow’s contest at home against Alcorn State, Mississippi State basketball coach Rick Ray also got a chance to speak publicly for the first time about his most recent signees, the group of players joining the Bulldogs next summer who will make up Ray’s first class.
We’ll have more on MSU’s trip to Hawai’i soon, but in the meantime, Ray seems pretty thrilled about the players he has coming in and how they fit in with the guys he has on campus now. He’s quickly seeing his vision come together, even if his inaugural season may be tough.
The signees: Parkview Magnet High School (Arkansas) point guard I.J. Ready, who has led his team to back-to-back state championships, junior college wing Travis Daniels from Shelton State, 6’9″ forward Quantel Denson from Hutchinson Community College in Kansas and 6’11” center Fallou Ndoye from Findlay Prep in Nevada.
The following are Ray’s thoughts on the individual signees, as well as the class as a whole.
Fallou was our number one target at that position. It was a long, drawn out recruiting process and it came to fruition and paid off for us. Really ecstatic, because we wanted somebody with a long, athletic body that was a little different than Gavin. We thought Fallou was a guy that could be really active on the offensive glass, can really run the court, but just gives us a guy that’s just different than Gavin as far as having a long body, a guy that can transition end to end pretty well. I think he has a wealth of talent. Obviously, he’s gotta continue to develop as a basketball player, like all big guys. The number one thing that you have to have is a willingness to work. If you don’t have that willingness to work, then you’re not gonna get better. Very rarely do you get any college basketball player coming as a big, a center, that’s already developed. Those guys are your one and done guys. If you’ve got a guy that’s willing to work, I think Fallou has a willingness to work. I’m really ecstatic about the way that worked out for us, as far as getting Fallou.
I just call him Q, but Quantel, I think, is probably one of the most talented junior college kids in the nation. He continues that thing I’m looking for as far having a four man that can do a bunch of different things, that has some versatility. He can shoot the basketball from three, he can post up, he’s a really good passer. I was just really ecstatic about us getting to sign him. And obviously me already knowing the kid from his background, being in Kansas City, and then knowing his junior college coach and knowing the area, it really paid off for us. I think he’s a guy who upgrades our talent immensely right away.
Travis Daniels is a kid that I’m really happy about signing. First and foremost, he’s a really versatile kid. He gives us a big wing. We don’t have that big wing in our program at this point in time. We have some talented guys at the wing, but we don’t have a guy who’s 6’7” and can go out there against SEC athletes and matchup against them and still be that perimeter guy. I think a lot of times, when kids come in, they’re 6’7” and they end up a four. Travis is 6’7” and he’s a legitimate perimeter guy. I think he’s gonna bring a lot of versatility to the team. I think he can shoot the ball. I think he rebounds well for his position. I think he can dribble, I think he can pass it. So I’m excited about him.
And then the kid that’s been committed to us for a long time, I think he’s gonna change the program. I think I.J. is a prototypical point guard. He’s gonna be a defensive pest on the other end as far as getting up and jamming the basketball the way I really wanna jam the basketball 94 feet. I think he’s a true point guard who can come down and set up your team. But more importantly, when we get the ball in transition, he’s a great decision maker. He can go in and penetrate and make plays and make the whole team better because he can find people.
The full class
I think it’s very rare that you have a situation where you go out and you get your number one guy at each position, and I think we went out and got out number one guy at each position. I know from a standpoint of stars and top 100 guys and things like that, it may not seem like this is a great recruiting class, but I know what I saw with my own eyes and I know what I wanted in my program. For us to go out and get guys we identified is a true testament to what our assistant coaches did as far as identifying guys that are good for our program and what we needed. I just want to make sure I don’t go by without signifying what a great job that Wes and Chris And George did accumulating this class. I’m really happy about it.