- Nick Weatherspoon will be a welcome addition to a remarkably young Mississippi State team. He's likely to get paired in the backcourt with his older brother and could lift the Bulldogs' offense from behind the arc.
It should come as no surprise to college basketball fans that freshmen have come to possess a significant portion of the star power in the sport. Just look at this year’s NBA draft, where the first upperclassman was not selected until Duke sophomore Luke Kennard with the No. 12 pick. So while some returning players will undoubtedly have a major impact in the 2017–18 season, it’s important to get to know the new faces who may come to occupy the spotlight.
With that in mind, SI.com will be introducing you to the top 25 incoming freshmen in college basketball and breaking down the impact those players could have this season. We move to the No. 26 overall recruit, Mississippi State’s Nick Weatherspoon. (Note: Weatherspoon was ranked No. 25 in the composite before Marvin Bagley III’s reclassification bumped every freshman in the country down a peg.)
What he means for Mississippi State’s recruiting class
The news in July that the NCAA had academically cleared Weatherspoon to enroll at Mississippi State confirmed that coach Ben Howland will have the top two in-state players in the 2017 class (according to 247) at his disposal this winter. The news in August that Weatherspoon was arrested and charged with driving under the influence in Oktibbeha County added some uncertainty to the question of how much Howland can rely on the jewel of that class. (Howland says the team will handle the matter internally.)
Weatherspoon, the state’s No. 1 recruit, is the younger brother of junior guard Quinndary Weatherspoon, who earned second-team All-SEC honors a season ago after leading the Bulldogs with 16.5 points per game. He and 6’ 8” forward KeyShawn Feazell make up the scholarship players set to join the Bulldogs, a two-man class with the chance to make an immediate impact on a roster that simply didn’t have the talent to hold up in the SEC last year.
How he fits
With the departure of point guard I.J. Ready, Mississippi State’s assists leader last year, Weatherspoon should have a starting spot in the backcourt alongside his brother open to him. His athleticism allowed him to play above the rim in high school; in the SEC, it may help him hold his own against the conference’s top defenders until he adjusts to the speed of college ball.
After fielding a roster made up almost entirely of freshmen and sophomores (Ready was the only senior) last year, the Bulldogs have nowhere to go but up, but there’s a big gap to be made up for Mississippi State to even crack the top half of the SEC. Feazell should boost the production of a frontcourt that lacked depth in 2016-17, but it still won’t be close to what the league’s contenders can roll out. Both Weatherspoons and sophomore Lamar Peters may be asked to compensate from beyond the arc.