BY BRAD LOCKE
STARKVILLE – There was a point guard inside Dee Bost, and it spent years trying to get out.
Bost hadn't a clue, despite the mounting evidence, that he was the kind of player who could direct a basketball team.
He didn't see how being a state champion quarterback at Concord (N.C.) High School developed the kind of vision and quick thinking required of a point guard.
He didn't realize it was in his blood -his older brother, Lance Lewis, played the position in high school.
Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury saw the point guard in Bost, though, which is why Bost is now running the Bulldogs' offense, and running it well.
Bost has found his old scoring touch of late, and he scorched Arkansas for 17 points on Saturday – he hit 3 of 6 from 3-point range – en route to earning SEC Freshman of the Week honors.
For the season, he's averaging 9.8 points and 4.3 assists per game.
Bost leads MSU (11-5, 1-0 SEC) into another league showdown tonight, against Alabama (11-4, 1-0). Tipoff at Humphrey Coliseum is 7 p.m.
When Bost came to an MSU camp in June of 2007, Stansbury immediately put the ball in his hands and told him to run the point. Bost inwardly questioned the wisdom of such a move.
At Concord, the 6-foot-2, 170-pounder played the four position.
His brother ran the point, and Bost had no ambitions of assuming that role at the next level.
However, he quickly took to the role.
He didn't get to run point right away, but he was learning it. At Hargrave Military Academy last year, Bost paid close attention to teammate Damier Pitts, with whom he also played in AAU. Pitts, who's now at Marshall, was the No. 8-ranked point guard in the country last year.
“I learned how to run the team and what to do to set up a team to win,” Bost said.
He also grew up a little bit.
“Before I went to Hargrave, I was kind of immature and didn't take things seriously,” he said. “But when I went there it made me realize I've got to take things seriously.”
The transition has not come without struggles. Bost was far from a go-to scorer earlier this season – he'd get 15 one night, four the next, two the next.
In his last two games, though, Bost has found a comfort level and a large measure of confidence.
He had 18 points against Western Kentucky before showing out against Arkansas.
“He had to feel it out the beginning of the season. Now he's coming into his own,” junior center Jarvis Varnado said. “He's distributing the ball well, he's shooting well right now.”
Consider Arkansas coach John Pelphrey impressed.
“(He) applies a lot of pressure bringing the ball up the floor in terms of making you get back get set; if you don't, he's there looking for an easy score for himself,” Pelphrey said.
“The way they shot the ball against us – 11 3-point shots – if you go and help out (guarding Bost), some of those other young men are cutting it loose.”
So what suddenly clicked for Bost? He said it's all in his head.
Bost said he was putting a lot of pressure on himself to perform well. He's found a way to relieve that pressure: Visualization.
At the behest of team psychologist Dr. Glenn Ellis, before each of State's past three games Bost has closed his eyes and envisioned himself making the right pass, nailing the big shot, making a stop on defense.
It's working like a charm. That point guard inside him is in full bloom, and he's the biggest reason the Bulldogs are improving.
“It all starts with Dee,” Stansbury said. “I always say, your point guard's always the head of the snake.”