Bulldog Spotlight On Michal Ignerski
After a couple of players left the Mississippi State basketball team in midseason a year ago, coach Rick Stansbury had an immediate and unforeseen recruiting need. He had to find someone who not only knew the game, but also had the experience to come in and make an immediate difference on the frontline. That is how State made room for Michal Ignerski, a 6’ 10”, 225 lb. forward. If the name Ignerski sounds Polish, it is.
“Michal Ignerski is from Poland and played his junior college ball in Oklahoma where he was a second team All American,” Stansbury said. “He brings something to this team that we need – a high basketball IQ and brings great skill level. He is a big guy who has the ability to really shoot it, dribble it or pass it. He has a great understanding of how we play the game. I think his passing skills are very important. He is a legit 6’ 10” and about 225. He can really shoot the basketball. He will surprise a lot of people with his athleticism.”
“I came here to visit last fall,” said Ignerski. “I saw the guys play a scrimmage game. I saw them work out in the weight room. I was really impressed with their dedication to working out hard. I made some good friends here with Corey (Stidham). I knew Coach (Phil) Cunningham before. He recruited me to come to the United States. He contacted me when I was a senior in high school. He knew the type of player I am. He contacted me because he needed someone to play my position here.”
The Lublin, Poland native should vie for immediate playing time at both the power forward and small forward positions for the Bulldogs. He can shoot the ball from the perimeter or pass it. He is working his strength and bulk to compete effectively at the power forward spot, but that progressed was slowed.
“Michal had a wrist operation to repair some torn cartilage near the beginning of August, so he has had the limited opportunity to play,” Stansbury said. The cast came off on August 31st. We wanted him to have that procedure now rather than wait and have to have it during the season. He is getting stronger since the cast came off.”
The rehab on my wrist went fine,” Ignerski said. “I began shooting with my right hand in mid-September. The wrist really bothered me for about two years. I’m glad we got this done before the season began.”
A year ago, Ignerski received NJCAA All-American Third Team honors while playing at Eastern Oklahoma State College in Wilburton averaging a team leading 17.3 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. He shot 52 percent overall from the field, 47 percent (59-of-125) from beyond the three point arc and 78 percent from the free-throw line to help lead EOSC to a 23-8 overall record and runner-up finish in the 2001 Region II Tournament as a sophomore.
He transferred to EOSC after playing his freshman year at Bacone Junior College in Muskogee, Okla. There he averaged 14.7 points and a team high 7.4 rebounds per contest, in addition to shooting 46 percent overall from the field, 36 percent from the arc and 76 percent from the line. He helped lead BJC to a 24-9 overall record and runner-up finish in the 2000 Region II Tournament. The reason Ignerski transferred junior colleges was to follow his coach Jimmy Voight.
With junior college behind him, Ignerski came to State with one purpose in mind, play basketball in the collegiate environment. “I came to summer school here this summer,” he said. “I needed to do that because it is much easier to work out every day. Last summer I went home to Poland. Looking back at it now, I really wasted my time at home. That is why I wanted to stay here in the United States this summer. I also know that the SEC is a much tougher league than I played in last year. I worked out with the guys here, and they are helping me to recognize just how competitive this league is going to be. The best thing about working out here is that I became friends with the guys on the team.”
“He is on a mission,” Stansbury added. “He knows the importance of academics and basketball. He is a good student. He has a chance to be a tremendous player.”
“During the summer I found out the competition is very tough,” Ignerski said. “I really don’t know what role I will be asked to play. I know that I like to play in big games, but to do that I am going to have to prove my abilities. I’ll do what I can to make this team better. My personal goals this year are the same as last year – do my very best every day in practice and in games. I work hard every day and try to improve every day.”
With those types of goals, Ignerski should fit in very well at Mississippi State.