July 31, 2014 10:41:47 PM
STARKVILLE -- Mississippi State's latest recruiting class is shaping up to be coach Rick Ray's best in Starkville, and that class received a boost late Wednesday night when Ray landed his most highly rated prospect yet.
Quinndary Weatherspoon, a 6-foot-5, 170-pound shooting guard out of Velma Jackson High School in Camden, announced his commitment to join the Bulldogs in the Class of 2015.
Weatherspoon is listed as a four-star prospect on Scout.com and he becomes MSU's third commitment for the 2015 class, joining three-star prospects Joseph Strugg, a power forward from Montgomery, Alabama, and Tookie Brown, a guard out of Morgan County High School in Georgia.
"That's where I feel the most comfortable at," said Weatherspoon to the Clarion-Ledger. "I'll be close to home and can make a big impact on a rebuilding team. I'm just ready to become a Bulldog."
Weatherspoon, who likely projects as a shooting guard at the next level, averaged 16.6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game as a junior for Velma Jackson, which has won two straight Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 3A state championships.
According to national recruiting experts, snagging Weatherspoon is a big boost to Ray's rebuilding efforts in Starkville. In his first two seasons, Ray has posted a record of 24-41.
"This is the best recruit (Ray) has reeled in yet," said Evan Daniels, Scout.com's national basketball recruiting analyst. "He brings versatility and he can help in a variety of ways. One of his biggest strengths is his ability to put the ball in the basket. He has worked hard and turned himself into a scorer."
While Weatherspoon is currently a four-star prospect on Scout.com, Daniels expects that "He will likely be a Top 100 recruit when we release our new rankings. This is a very good player."
More to come?
While Weatherspoon is rated as the state's No. 2 prospect, No. 1 is still available. Malik Newman, a five-star guard out of Callaway High School is ranked among the nation's top five recruits for the 2015 class, and he is being courted by national powers like Kentucky, Duke and Kansas. He's also being heavily recruited by Ray and the Bulldogs.
Newman's father, Horatio Webster, was an All-SEC performer at MSU during his career from 1996 until 1998.
While Newman was considered a longshot to the Bulldogs as recently as a few months ago, recruiting experts are beginning to believe Ray has a real shot to land the nation's No. 2-ranked player.
"With his ties to Mississippi State, you can't count them out," said Daniels. "I don't know if they are the favorite, but they are certainly in the mix. He's being pursued by Kansas, Kentucky, all the top programs. But you can't count Rick Ray out."
With Weatherspoon's commitment, MSU's 2015 class has jumped to No. 15 in the country according to 247sports.com, and landing Newman would likely vault the Bulldogs into the top 10.
"If they were able to pull that off, it would certainly put them in line to be highly ranked," said Daniels. "Any time you sign a guy like Newman, it's a huge deal. But it's still early. I don't think anyone has a great idea where he's going to land yet."
Jerry Meyer, national recruiting analyst for 247sports.com, believes Mississippi State's class will need a Newman-level recruit to maintain its current lofty ranking. But he also doesn't rule MSU out of the Newman sweepstakes.
"To be frank, Mississippi State is highly ranked in the 2015 247Sports Composite team rankings more because of quantity than quality," said Meyer. "Coach Ray's three recruits are quality three-star prospects but Mississippi State will need to land a five-star the recruit like Malik Newman to stay in the top 20 of the rankings as other schools begin landing more recruits.
"The Newman recruitment is a difficult one to read but there is a narrative that staying close to home for college might win out at the end of the day."
Follow Dispatch sports writer Brandon Walker on Twitter @BWonStateBeat