Late last week, BulldogBlitz.com recruiting analyst Paul Jones and I set out to do a mock basketball draft. It wasn't an NBA Draft, however. We went back and forth, creating two five-man teams using only players on the roster for Mississippi State's 2011-12 basketball team.
The goal was to learn more about the roster, and that mission was accomplished. The number one lesson learned was just how uncertain most of us are about this team.
Out of the 10 players Paul and I selected, four were freshmen, one was a transfer who just sat out one year, one is a sophomore coming back from an ACL injury, one was a high school phenom who hasn't been healthy since arriving on campus and one (Renardo Sidney) played last year but comes in with more questions than the rest combined. Only two of the 10 selected actually played in 2010-11 and enter the next season without any question marks, and only one of them projects as a starter.
That's the bad news for MSU. The good news? The depth is going to be better than it has been in over half a decade, and the pure potential of this group is through the roof.
Last year, there might not have been enough to players for Paul and I to do this. This year, at least two key contributors were left off the list.
Paul had the first pick, which in basketball gave him a significant advantage. He was able to pick the one proven returning starter without question marks. My team might be incredible one day. It may also crash and burn. I picked the players, but I'd be lying if I said I thought my team was better than Paul's.
Without further ado, here's the draft, with complete rosters listed at the bottom.
1. Paul: Dee Bost, senior point guard, 6',2", 176 pounds
I have to admit I went back and forth on my initial pick for the hoops team. Bost or Sidney. We have seen what Bost can do, and with Sidney, heck he averaged 13 points and almost nine boards last season, and he was out of shape. But give me Dee Bost to open this fun.
2. Bob: Arnett Moultrie, junior forward, 6',11", 230 pounds
I'd have taken Bost first, too, but it wasn't Sidney who I had in mind for No. 2. The 6'11" Moultrie is going to be not only one of the best players for MSU, but one of the best in the SEC West (insert joke here). I'm a Sidney believer, but Moultrie is still a bit safer, even though we haven't seen him play for MSU, yet.
3. Paul: Renardo Sidney, junior forward, 6',10", 270 pounds
I see your understanding, and no problem with that selection. And I definitely have no problem taking Sidney as my second selection. Now comes the difficult part, or maybe after this next round.
4. Bob: Rodney Hood, freshman guard, 6'7", 190
You've got the potential for an incredible one-two punch, though a lot of people were hoping to see that last year and it never took shape. I believe it will, though, so I'll take Hood to give me some offensive firepower to keep up. I expect him to be well entrenched as a starter before SEC play even gets close.
5. Paul: Jalen Steele, sophomore guard, 6'3", 190 pounds
Well, good thing I had two guys in mind for my next pick, because you grabbed one of them. So I will just as gladly take the best shooter, in my opinion, on the team, and that is Jalen Steele. Yes, he is coming off ACL surgery but that won't affect his shooting touch.
6. Bob: DeVille Smith, freshman point guard, 5',10", 160 pounds
I'm a little terrified right now. None of my three picks have played for MSU yet, while all three of yours are veterans. But, I need a point guard, and I think Smith will be a great one. If he picks things up quick I'd like to see him at the point for MSU this season, while Bost moves to his more natural position as a two-guard.
7. Paul: Wendell Lewis, junior forward, 6',8", 253 pounds
If we are keeping fantasy points with these teams, you may want to hope college hoops joins the NFL and NBA in their lockout modes. I will take another post man who should continue to show improvements this year, and that is Wendell Lewis.
8. Bob: Shaun Smith, sophomore guard, 6',6", 207 pounds
Man, you're always one pick ahead of me, Paul. Where is Barry Stewart when you need a guard? This is, like all my other picks, a bit of a gamble. But if Smith can get past injuries and show the talent we knew he had in high school (he once dropped 43 points on Starkville High) then I may have gotten a steal. If not, well, it's going to be a long season for me.
9. Paul: Roquez Johnson, freshman forward/guard, 6'6", 210 pounds
I, too, am rooting for Shaun to return to those days, and he had a great preseason camp last year before re-injuring his hip again. So as we put the finishing touches on this draft, I will take a page from your playbook and select Roquez Johnson. Of the new guys that were here first term, Johnson and Hood are considered the hardest-workers.
10. Bob: D.J. Gardner, freshman guard, 6'6", 205 pounds
Solid choice, and Johnson may be a guy who surprises some people. As for my final pick, it was between Gardner and Brian Bryant. I trust Bryant more, but I already have my point guard. I've unintentionally drafted this entire team on unknown potential anyway, so I might as well keep it up with Gardner. I think the potential is there for him to see a ton of time this year, and maybe even start some, but he will certainly go through an adjustment period.
Paul's full roster: PG Dee Bost, F Renardo Sidney, G Jalen Steele, F Wendell Lewis, F/G Roquez Johnson
Bob's full roster: F Arnett Moultrie, G Rodney Hood, PG DeVille Smith, G Shaun Smith, G D.J. Gardner