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November 14, 2013
Schaefer: 2014 Class a Winner
Vic Schaefer came to Mississippi State with one major goal in mind, to win the National Championship. MSU's women's head coach assisted for years under friend and mentor Gary Blair at Arkansas and Texas A&M where he saw rousing success culminated by a National Title before he left to become the head man in Starkville. Now that he has his own team to coach, he's trying to make MSU a winner and a big winner.
Schaefer won big on the recruiting trail on Wednesday signing a top 25 class that MSU has not seen often in their 40 years of basketball. Schaefer added big pieces that can take MSU to the next level in women's college hoops and he was more than ecstatic about the big day that he had.
"I just believe in this University, I believe in our administration of Dr. (Mark) Keenum and Scott Stricklin. I believe in our program. My staff and I, we're all winners. There's only one way that we know how to do things and over the years that's proven to be pretty successful. It takes great players and it takes workers. Work ethic, character and skill set are three things that you can't sacrifice in recruiting. In this class, I think we did it all. We got great work ethics, great character kids and their skill sets are off the charts. Kids have got to know that we're not just talking the talk, we're walking the walk."
"We've been a part of programs that know how to get it done, that know how to develop kids and put kids at the next level. I think that's easy, when you put it on paper, I think it's real easy to sell at that point. The other thing is parents have to know that you're going to take care of kids. I'm a father, a husband and a dad. Coach Harris is a mom as well. They have to have a great feeling when they leave for Mississippi State that our staff is going to take care of their daughter. I think the parents all feel that."
Arguably the biggest signee in the program's history came from Victoria Vivians from Scott Central in Forest, Miss., who decided to stay in state and turn down colleges from around the country. Schaefer made it a priority to make sure that Mississippi is closed down for MSU, especially with a once in a decade (or longer) type player like Vivians.
"When I left here from my press conference to go back to A&M and go to the Sweet 16 with them, I was talking to (Scott Central Head Coach) Chad Harrison when the plane took off and I talked to him until we got in the clouds and lost connection. That was the first call I ever made."
"Victoria made a decision today that all the little girls in Mississippi can look to and say 'I can stay home in this state, play at a top 20 program, have a chance to be right here in this state and represent it.' That to me is what it's all about for us. We want to close the borders in the state of Mississippi and look at Victoria and say that Mississippi State is the place to be. We're going to win. This team that we have now is going to make strides and get better and better. I think we're a better basketball team today than when we ended the season last year. Our program is on the rise. We're headed in the right direction. This is how you build a program. I appreciate the trust that every one of those young ladies put in us. I can tell you that our staff and I will work our tail off to make sure that we don't do anything to break that trust."
"She has a complete skill set, unbelievable competitor and she's a winner. She doesn't know anything but winning. Game is on the line, she wants the ball in her hands."
Along with Vivians, Schaefer signed a star-studded class including his own daughter Blair who is a standout guard at Starkville High School. The second-year coach also pulled in guards Morgan William of Birmingham, Ala., and Kayla Nevitt of Houston, Texas as well as a physical, 6-1 forward in LaKaris Salter of Tallahassee, Fla. He knows each girl as well as a future coach should, but none more than his own daughter who he raised and taught to play the game. He sees all the hard work paying off for her the most.
"Blair has worked awfully hard from the time she was eight years old and had 60 points and a little dribbler game. She's just always been a competitive kid and she's a winner. She'll do whatever it takes. She'll take a charge, make shots for you, make the extra pass, take kids to the gym with her and spend time shooting. She's going to do all of the little things. I've seen her make a bunch of big shots in her career. Obviously I have a great feel for her and I understand what her game is like."
What excites the head coach the most is that he signed a group of winning players. The competitive nature that he exudes comes off in his players and it's starting show in the way that he recruits.
"Every one of these players are on a team that when the game is on the line, they're going to have the ball. LaKaris Salter hits the game-winning shot to win the 2A State Championship. She's back-to-back 2A player of the year in the state of Florida, but wants the ball in her hands when the game is on the line."
"Kayla Nevitt is the same way out of the state of Texas. She played in a State Championship in the highest classification in Texas. I've watched her since she was an eighth grader because her and Blair played AAU together for a few years. I've seen her play for a long time. I knew when I saw in eighth grade that she was a winner. I said that if I'm still coaching when she comes up I'd be recruiting her because she's a player."
"Then the point guard from Alabama, Morgan William. She was Northeast Player of the Year last year and the Birmingham News Player of the year. Again, her motor runs at an unbelievable level and she's a competitor. She played in the State Championship last year and got upset, but I promise you she'll have her team back there again. Her athleticism and quickness is the closest thing that I could find to our assistant Aqua Franklin who took us to the elite 8 at A&M."
"All those kids are just tremendous competitors but they all want the ball when the game is on the line. They're not scared. If you're going to play and live in the SEC, you better not be scared. You either eat, or you be eaten. They all have that mindset that it takes to compete in this conference."
The pieces are now there for Schaefer to build the MSU program into something that it hasn't consistently been. Building it with winners that have a great skill set, as he said, is the ultimate starting point. He's ready to win, now.
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