The Mississippi State Bulldogs had a terrible season last year. The lone bright spot of the season could have been their first round SEC tournament victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks, but the rest of the season was marred by defensive breakdowns and player injuries that the team could not recover from. Jalen Steele was the team’s best player, but he was injured early in the season, again in the middle and then suspended to end the season. The injuries effectively hindered any chance that Mississippi State had at making it to the NCAA tournament or even the NIT tournament. However, the Bulldogs had some especially bright showings from their new freshmen, all of whom are returning next season.
Craig Sword and Fred Thomas had outstanding seasons last year and are set to have another big season this year. Sword, as well as fellow freshman Gavin Ware, made the SEC’s All-Freshman Team. They are not ready to go to the NBA just yet, but expect Sword to be ready by the end of the season. The longer that they remain with the Bulldogs, the better Mississippi State will become.
The Bulldogs are a year or two away from NCAA tournament contention, but they could definitely make it to the NIT next season. They have both the talent and now the experience to have a respectable season in an SEC that will be much tougher than last year. Expect the young Mississippi State squad to have success because of Ware, Sword, and Thomas, but don’t forget that sophomore Memphis-born shooting guard DeAndre Applewhite will be back after a first season injury as well. The Bulldogs are set to be a team that is slowly on the rise again in the SEC.