By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – When I.J. Ready committed to Mississippi State in May 2012, he was thought to be the Bulldogs’ point guard for the future.
As it turns out, that future began with a start in his first game of collegiate action this season.
Although the true freshman has missed six games due a concussion and hamstring injury, Ready has been a steadying influence for MSU when he has been on the court this year.
“It’s been tough trying to bounce back from the injuries and going back to playing aggressive,” Ready said. “It’s not been as bad as everyone thinks it is. They’re minor injuries so I could get back to being myself. But not being out there for a week or two will get you out of your rhythm.”
Ready has made a major impact in the two games returning from injury. He hit six of his 14 3-pointers on the year in those outings and is averaging 6.4 points and 3.1 assists this season.
The 5-foot-11, 170-pounder played for MSU assistant coach Wes Flanigan’s father, Al, at Parkview Magnet High School in Little Rock, Ark. Ready averaged 21.7 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals as a senior after his team won Class 6A state titles while he was a sophomore and junior.
As a three-star prospect, Ready generated offers from Alabama, Arkansas-Little Rock, Central Arkansas and Nebraska. Wes Flanigan and MSU coach Rick Ray targeted the Natural State standout shortly after arriving in Starkville.
“He’s just a sound basketball player,” Ray said. “He knows how to do everything. He can do things off the ball screen and off the cut. He knows how to find people and isn’t a selfish basketball player. But the biggest thing about him is his willingness to compete.”
That competitive fire has helped Ready draw 14 starts for the Bulldogs this year over junior Trivante Bloodman, who started every game for State last season. But Ready admits playing at this collegiate level is much different than high school or AAU.
“Every player out there on the floor is an elite player,” Ready said. “There’s not one or two people than can play here and there. Everybody out there can play so you’ve got to bring your A-game every time that you play.”
Back on track
With Ready’s successful track record, the Bulldogs’ current four-game losing skid is both unnerving and uncharted territory for the freshman. He is devising ways to get the team back on track.
“It’s not sitting well,” Ready said. “But this is also a team thing and a college experience. It’s a big drop and I’m not really used to it but we’ve just got to come together, believe and depend on each other.”