Former UCLA Bruins head coach Ben Howland finally took the place of Rick Ray after several below-average seasons in a row, despite Ray bringing in solid recruiting classes. The Bulldogs were expected to compete in what was to be an extremely average SEC thanks to the arrival of several highly-touted recruits and the return of talented veterans, but failed to do so.
Heading into 2016-17, however, expectations might be lower for Mississippi State, but this team looks poised to take a big step forward.
Five-star recruit Malik Newman is gone, but this team boasts multiple incoming four-star recruits and a few left over from the previous season. Several stalwart players from Ray’s time as head coach will be gone, meaning that this team seems to finally be Howland’s to mold into the future of Bulldogs basketball.
Better news for the Bulldogs is that most of the better teams in the SEC last season take a step back, outside of the Kentucky Wildcats. There are few teams in the SEC with elite talent, and it looks like this could be the perfect time for Mississippi State to take their place somewhere at the top of the SEC.
Remember, Mississippi State has the most SEC titles and tournament wins of any team outside of the Florida Gators and Wildcats since 2002. It is just a matter of time before this team gets back to playing top basketball, and 2016-17 could be the first steps towards just that.