STARKVILLE, Miss. - One day after Rick Ray landed his first recruit as head coach of Mississippi State, he signed another prized standout in Memphis native, Andre Applewhite.
The 6-foot-5, 202-pound guard/wing signed his national letter of intent at a press conference on Thursday in the library at Central High School, where he was coached by his father, Andre, the past four years.
"My visit to Mississippi State was amazing. I didn't need my whole two days of my official visit to make a decision as to where I wanted to be," Applewhite said. "The facilities, especially the academic center, blew my mind. It's amazing how much they care about the student athlete. Coach Ray is very down to earth. He's all business, but he can crack a joke or two. It's an honor that he came to me and asked me to play for him. The players and everybody I met were really nice.
"Mississippi State can expect a high energy guy throughout the game. I'll do whatever I need to win. If they need me to score, I'll score. If they need me to rebound, I'll go get the ball. If they need to me to defend, I will. I'm all about winning and having fun. If I score 20 points and we win, that's great. If I don't score and we win, that's great too."
Applewhite, who was born in Houston, Texas, on March 17, 1994, has enjoyed incredible success during his illustrious four-year prep career with the Warriors, where his teams posted a 97-20 record.
As a senior, he guided Central to a 20-10 ledger and a berth in the Tennessee Class 3A title game, where his team dropped a hard-fought 71-61 decision to city rival, Memphis East. In that outing, he scored a game-high 26 points to go along with his 13 rebounds. That performance came following a phenomenal showdown against Clarksville in the semifinals, where he poured in 29 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and collected six steals.
En route to the championship tilt, he was tabbed Regional MVP and garnered All-Tournament team accolades. He was also named to the Commercial Appeal's Best of the Prep and the Tennessee Sports Writers Association All-State teams.
On the year, he averaged 21.3 points and 11.1 rebounds.
"Toughness is an attribute I covet the most and Andrew Applewhite has it in groves," Ray said. "I love the fact he's a coach's son. He comes from a great family, where doing the right things is important to them. I'm excited about the future of Andre and his continued development at Mississippi State because he's a willing worker."
As a freshman, sophomore and junior, Applewhite's teams advanced to the regional semifinals before being eliminated in the playoffs. As a junior, he averaged 14.4 points and 5.1 boards and earned All-City honors. His sophomore season, he averaged 11.4 points and 4.2 rebounds as the Warriors were both the district regular-season and district tournament champions.
In his first year playing high school basketball, Central was 26-3, and he contributed 9.1 points and 3.3 boards as the Warriors claimed the regular-season district title.
"Mississippi State is going to get a very hard worker," the elder Applewhite said in regards to his son. "He's going to find a way to win. He's well versed. He's going to play hard, and he's going to give 100 percent every night. He's a basketball player and takes advantages of opportunities on the floor. He can take it to the rim, and he has a nice mid-range game, as good as there is in Tennessee. But he can also shoot the 3-ball. It's just a matter of him developing for the college level."
Applewhite joins guard Jacoby Davis as the two players Ray has signed this week.