Over the summer, a lot of hype was building around this Mississippi State men's basketball team. The hiring of a big name coach and the signing of a very talented recruiting class brought a lot of excitement to a program that has been struggling mightily in the past few years to even get fans to the games, let alone win them. And with all of the buzz around everything new that was happening and being brought in, some may have forgotten about the talent and potential stars already on the team.
And even amongst the names of the players that were returning this year, no matter how much he was mentioned, it feels like we haven't talked about Gavin Ware enough. Coming into the season, many expected Malik Newman or Craig Sword to be the leading scorer on the team, and as it turns out, Gavin is scoring around 7 points more per game than each of them.
Over the past three years, in the 95 games Gavin played he averaged 9.5 points per game. So far in the 8 games he's played this season, he's averaging 19 points per game. He's scored 152 points so far this season. He only scored 301 last season. Assuming MSU ends up playing 32 games (the rounded average of how many games they played in each of the past three seasons), Gavin is projected to score 601.7 points this year, almost double what he put up last year and considerably higher than the 270 points from his freshman year and the 330 points in his sophomore campaign. And it isn't like he's taking a reckless amount of shots to get these point totals. Before this year, the most accurate Ware was from the field was when he hit 58.1% of his shots during his sophomore season. This year, he's hitting over 70% of them. That's 22% higher than the team average this year.
On top of his success scoring, he's also the leading rebounder for the team with 7.8 rebounds per game, higher than his previous total of 7.2 rebounds per game. Other categories that he's improved greatly on? Assists. Ware isn't exactly a premier passer or ball handler by any stretch of the imagination, but in his three previous years with MSU, he had 25 total assists. Over 95 games. That's not a good number. He never had more than 9 in a season. Thus far through 8 games, he's put up 7 assists. That's not an astounding or overly impressive total, but it shows the improvement he's made in every aspect of his game.
And so with our game against FSU tonight, and with the rest of the season up ahead, expect big things from MSU's big man. Gavin Ware has shouldered the load for Mississippi State for the season so far, being the leader in scoring for six of the eight games so far and being the leader in rebounding in six games as well. He's been the leader of both categories in four games so far. In the summer, I wrote that three players had a shot at being drafted in the next NBA draft, one of them being Gavin Ware. If he can keep playing the way he has so far, he might just solidify his shot to get to the next level.