Bulldogs will retool in upcoming season
By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
July 20, 2003
There may not have been another team in the country hit as hard by the NBA Draft and graduation than Mississippi State University.
The Bulldogs, who went 21-10 overall last year (9-7 Southeastern Conference), joined the Kansas Jayhawks as the only two schools to have two players selected in the NBA draft on June 26, and the squad lost three starters from its line up.
In the draft, MSU lost leading scorer Mario Austin. As a junior, he averaged 15.8 points and 7.8 rebounds per game for the Bulldogs.
Austin was taken by the Chicago Bulls with the 36th overall pick in the draft's second round.
Senior point guard Derrick Zimmerman was also taken in the draft with the 40th overall pick by the Golden State Warriors.
The Monroe, La., native averaged 8.8 points per game and 5.6 assists in his final season with MSU.
Starting forward Michal Ignerski also left the Bulldogs via graduation. The Lublin, Poland, native averaged 9.2 points per game and 4.8 rebounds in his senior campaign.
The biggest blow to the Bulldogs' squad may have been losing recruit Travis Outlaw to the draft.
The former Starkville High School standout became the second Mississippi State signee in four years to be selected in the first round of the NBA Draft. Outlaw was taken by the Portland Trailblazers with the 23rd pick overall.
Previously, Picayune native and 1998-99 McDonald's All-American Jonathan Bender was the No. 5 pick overall in the 1999 NBA Draft by the Toronto Raptors.
The departures of Austin, Ignerski and Outlaw have left big holes to fill in MSU's front court for the upcoming season.
Stansbury will turn to incoming junior Marcus Campbell to take over most of the front-court duties on a team with little depth in the post.
The 7-foot Albany, Fla., native posted 9.5 points and 4.3 rebounds in 15.5 minutes per game filling in for Austin, who was awaiting word from the NCAA on his eligibility, at the start of last season.
MSU will also depend heavily on its perimeter game in the upcoming season.
The Bulldogs will look for guards Ontario Harper and Winsome Frazier to provide offensive punch from the outside in 2003-04.
Harper averaged 7.3 points per game in 30 contest last year, with a 24.7 shooting percentage from three-point range.
Frazier tallied 6.3 points per game in 30 contest, and he had a 34.5 shooting percentage from behind the three-point arc.