clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

6 Biggest 'What Ifs' in MSU History; #5: What if the 2005 Basketball Recruiting Class Had Worked Out

After the 2005 basketball season, Rick Stansbury had built Mississippi State into an excellent program. Four NCAA Tournament appearances in four years including a SEC regular season and tournament championship in that time frame. The bad news was State was losing 5 of its top 6 players to graduation (Frazier, Power, Roberts, Campbell, Harper). The good news was State was about to bring in a recruiting class that looked to be along the lines of the fab five.

At the top of the list was Monta Ellis - Parade Magazine's Co-National High School Player of the Year (along with Greg Oden). Then you had the Delk twins - Richard and Reginald. Richard Delk was going to be a serviceable player in years to come, but was still one of the top 25 point gaurds in the country. Reginald was the big catch as he was a 4-star shooting guard. Vernon Goodridge was listed by some as the top center in the country, and at least top 5 by most recruiting 'experts'. Throw Bernard Rimmer in there as he was part of this class, and then the big April splash which was Jamont Gordon - a 4-star. Ellis, Gordon, Goodridge and Reginald Delk were all listed in the Top 50 players around the country.

Well, after Jamont Gordon signed it seemed to all fall apart. A few weeks later Monta Ellis declared for the NBA draft and then Gary Ervin decided to transfer to Arkansas. This left Gordon to run the point as a true freshman and the young team was only able to muster a .500 record.

In 2007, Gordon was still the only one living up to his billing as the Delks were average players and Vernon Goodridge made himself into a complete bust averaging 2.3 PPG and 3.0 RPG (following 1.8 & 1.9 his freshman year). After the season everyone except Gordon (who almost left for the NBA) transferred: Goodridge to LaSalle, Rimmer to Georgia State, Reginald Delk to Louisville and Richard Delk to Troy.

After a decent 2008 leading State to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tourney, Gordon left for the NBA. None of the six players who signed with MSU in 2005 graduated. Stansbury was never able to get back to the level he had before this group arrived - and he was beset with players of questionable character and transfers until his tenure ended.

When you look at how good this class was supposed to be, there's no limit to the success MSU could have achieved. Even if Ellis had still gone pro and Ervin transferred this class should've achieved much more. Reginald Delk and Vernon Goodridge were clearly the two biggest disappointments as they barely produced anything in their two years. 2008 should have been a run towards a national championship. 2009 could have been more of the same. But it wasn't.