SEC Teleconference: Ray Talks Newcomers, Lewis, Steele

Rick Ray made his first appearance on an SEC coaches teleconference today. His opening statement got right to the point: “Well, we’ll have a brand new team. … We’ll be new, and we’ll be inexperienced, and we’ll see how it turns out.”

MSU will welcome several newcomers this year – seven to be exact – although only one of them is currently on campus, juco transfer Colin Borchert. The rest of the signees will show up for the second summer session in July, Ray said.

“Most of the incoming guys were not done and graduated from high school in time to enter the first summer session, so only really the first candidate was Colin, because he got done in time enough to attend the first summer session,” said Ray. “I’m not big on making guys be there for both summer sessions. I want those guys to get away and spend some time with their families and kind of divest a little bit from basketball and Mississippi State and recharge the batteries, and come back here ready to go for summer (session) two.”

Here are just a few more tidbits from Ray’s chat with the media.

• On what he’s learned of the SEC so far: “A lot of these (coaches) here are fierce recruiters and have deep ties and roots in the Southeast, so going up against those guys in recruiting wars has been an experience for me and my staff. I think we fared well with what we were able to do, but obviously these guys have done a good job of setting roots down here in the South and done a good job of recruiting.”

• On the importance of returnees Wendell Lewis and Jalen Steele: “The big thing with those guys is now they’re on top of a scouting report instead of being on the back page at the bottom of the scouting report. It used to be when Wendell and Jalen had a bad game, Mississippi State could still win because they had other guys. Pretty much now, if Jalen and Wendell struggle for us offensively, it’s going to be hard for us to win that particular basketball game.”

• On Lewis and freshman Gavin Ware at the five spot: “The big thing for Gavin for us is we want him to be able to come in and challenge Wendell for playing time. I don’t want to necessarily say that Wendell’s the starter and Gavin’s the backup; it could be flipped around. We’ll have to see how those guys do on the court. My hope would be that Wendell takes on the challenge and is the starting center for us, and Gavin is his backup.”

Click video to hear audio