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Ray looks to newcomers to improve depth

 

Matthew Stevens

 

STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State men's basketball coach Rick Ray chose Monday to talk more about players no one has seen play in a game. 

 

With only seven Southeastern Conference victories in two seasons, Ray hopes transfers and incoming freshmen will help reverse the fortunes of a program that finished the regular season 13-18 and 3-15 in the Southeastern Conference. In his first two years at MSU, Ray has had to make do with seven and eight scholarship players. He said the lack of depth has changed his way of coaching and has impacted the program. 

 

"I really think you can't anticipate playing two years, first year with six or seven scholarship players and the second year seven and eight scholarship players," Ray said. "I don't think anybody every anticipates or plans for that. I think that's the thing that's been the big drawback, the thing that's been the unknown my first two years." 

 

MSU will try to extend its season Wednesday night against Vanderbilt in the SEC tournament at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The winner of that game, which will start at approximately 8:30 p.m. and can be seen on My Mississippi, will face Ole Miss. 

 

Next season, Ray expects to have at least 12 scholarship players. Two of the new players -- forward Travis Daniels and Fallou Ndoye -- are on campus. Daniels and Ndoye are practicing with the team but can't suit up for games. 

 

"We'll have a full roster, not just a full roster, but a full talented roster," Ray said when asked about next season. "You guys don't see it, but Fallou Ndoye is going to be a good player in the SEC. Travis Daniels is going to be a really good player in the SEC." 

 

Daniels, who joined the program after having academic eligibility issues transferring from Shelton State this summer, was unable to meet NCAA eligibility standards until after the first semester. As a freshman at Shelton State, Daniels led the Buccaneers to a 28-4 record and a runner-up finish in the Alabama Community College Conference tournament. The 6-foot-8 forward prepped at Russellville High School, where he averaged a double-double his senior year. As a junior, he played at Woodrow Wilson High and led the team in scoring (18.8). He selected MSU over Southern Miss, Western Kentucky, and Wichita State. 

 

"I think the thing that's different for us is we have Fallou and Travis sitting out, so I get a chance to see those guys every day," Ray said. "You work with them every day so you see the promise of those guys in your program." 

 

In August, the NCAA ruled Ndoye, a 6-11 center from Senegal, as a partial qualifier after he completed the initial-eligibility waiver. 

 

Ndoye, who starred at the nationally recognized Findlay Prep in Henderson, Nev., isn't playing, but he is receiving his athletic scholarship and participating in practices and workouts as a redshirt.  

 

Ndoye should add frontcourt depth behind 6-8 sophomore center Gavin Ware. 

 

"In all of our help defense we never come help with size," Ray said. "Instead of coming over and rotating with a guy who is 6-8, now with Fallou you have a guy rotating over who is 6-foot-10, instead of having a guy like Tyson Cunningham, who is 6-foot-2." 

 

 

 

Wilson's freshman basketball season finished 

 

Ray announced Monday that MSU wide receiver De'Runnya Wilson no longer will work out or practice with the basketball team this season. Wilson, who played in seven games and scored six points, will try to recover from some nagging injuries that carried over from the 2013 football season.  

 

"One is like his groin was bothering him somewhat, (but) when it's all said and done, Bear hasn't had a break," Ray said. "We all know that when it's all said and done Bear, if he has a chance to do something special, it's going to be on the football field. I want to make sure he took the time to get ready for spring practice and get himself prepared for competition at that wide receiver position because I know it's going to be a competitive deal." 

 

Wilson had 26 catches for 351 yards and three touchdowns in his first season. He didn't become a walk-on member of the basketball team in mid-January.  

 

Wilson was a two-sport standout at Wenonah High in Birmingham, Ala. He averaged a double figures in scoring and rebounding as a senior, and turned down Division I basketball scholarship offers from Auburn, UAB, and Murray State. 

 

 

 

Moore inactive for SEC tournament  

 

A sore right foot will keep walk-on guard Tevin Moore out of the SEC tournament. 

 

Moore played a career-high 17 minutes Feb. 24 in a 73-69 loss to Arkansas at Humphrey Coliseum. The 6-3 junior college transfer guard from Olive Branch scored five points, grabbed four rebounds, and made a 3-pointer in the first half to keep the Bulldogs close.  

 

Days after getting that playing time over Fred Thomas, who was benched the entire game, Moore suffered a severe high ankle sprain that required his foot to be placed in a walking boot.  

 

"He hasn't been in any sort of full contact drills," Ray said. "He's been doing some things off on the side individually. He's been participating in shooting drills, but anything like cutting or moving against another defender or him on offense, he hasn't been able to do that." 

 

 

 

Cunningham named to 2014 SEC Community Service Team 

 

For the second year in a row, senior guard Tyson Cunningham has been named to the SEC Community Service Team. 

 

Cunningham, a native of Columbus, volunteers his time with the "Kids With Character" Basketball Camp at Columbus High. He also works with ManHood Camp, which is designed to teach boys how to grow up and be men with character and standards. 

 

He also is an active participant with the Lace-Up Program, a club designed for middle school kids that is centered toward academics in the summer. It exposes the children to educational opportunities and enrichment activities. He also is active in Big Brother and serves as a volunteer and chaperon at various church camps and programs. 

 

"It's a calling and something I really enjoy," he said. "It's a chance for me to give back." 

 

Cunningham has appeared in 30 games and is averaging 1.9 points. 

 

Alabama sophomore guard Retin Obasohan and Ole Miss junior center Demarco Cox also were selected to the team. 

 

Follow Matt Stevens on Twitter @matthewcstevens.

 

 

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