Trio of Former Mississippi State Bulldogs Finding Success with New Teams

Libor JanyContributor IDecember 2, 2009

ATLANTA - MARCH 10:  Ben Hansbrough #11 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs starts the fast break after a rebound during their semifinal game against the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Southeastern Conference Men's Basketball Tournament at the Georgia Dome March 10, 2007 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

As you may recall, Mississippi State’s fortuitous run to the semi-finals of the 2007 NIT came on the heels of a disappointing regular season, where they finished 17-12.

While the Bulldogs were anchored by the brilliant play of Jamont Gordon, Charles Rhodes, and Dietric “Sleepy” Slater, a major component of their postseason success was the improved play of a trio of underclassmen: freshman guard Ben Hansbrough and the Delk twins, Reginald and Richard, both sophomores.

Since the Bulldogs’ agonizing last-second loss to West Virginia on a Darris Nichols buzzer-beating three-pointer, all three players decided to transfer for personal reasons: Richard and Reginald to Troy and Louisville, respectively, while Hansbrough landed at Notre Dame.

For anyone who watched the Delks during their time at MSU, it came as no surprise that Reginald transferred to the higher profile school. After all, he played a pivotal role for that NIT team, averaging 9.5 points per game and saw a lot of playing time down the stretch.

So, it’s somewhat of a surprise to see him struggle in his first season with Louisville in 2008-'09, where he played a career-low 5.5 minutes per game.

Still, to his defense, he sat behind uber-guard Terrence Williams , now with the New Jersey Nets. Coach Pitino’s team was deep and finished the season 31-6, bowing out to Michigan State in the national semifinal.

With Williams and forward Earl Clark matriculating to the NBA, Reginald joins the enigmatic senior Edgar Sosa to form one of the most explosive backcourts in the country. Reginald is averaging 8.0 points per game.

In the opening game, Reginald faced a familiar foe, Arkansas, from his brief stint with the Bulldogs. He erupted for a game-high 20 points against the Razorbacks, shooting 89 percent from the field including 4-of-5 from three point range. Reginald also helped contain Razorbacks’ dynamic Rotnei Clarke, the second leading scorer in the nation.

Reginald never lost his long range shooting touch.

In two seasons at Mississippi State, he hit 122 three-pointers and was ranked seventh in the SEC in three-point percentage (.382) during the 2006-'07 season. This season, he is shooting over 60 percent from behind the three point arc.

Pitino may eventually insert Reginald into the starting lineup, forming a solid nucleus along with Sosa and forward Samardo Samuels as the 18th-ranked Cardinals gear up for another Final Four run.

While it was his brother who received the most fanfare during their two year tour with the Bulldogs, Richard Delk may end up with the last laugh.

The older Delk (by 30 minutes) is enjoying a breakout senior season, averaging 15.0 points and 4.3 rebounds per game for coach Don Maestri. Richard lit up UAB for a season-high 23 points on Nov. 24, and five days later, hung 20 on Georgia Southern.

After languishing on the bench for two years in Starkville, and sitting out a year following his transfer, in 2008-'09 Delk emerged as one of the Trojans’ top scorers, averaging 13.9 points per game. He was named Sun Belt Newcomer of the Year and second team All Conference.

Richard doesn’t always settle for the jumper like his brother, but is a slasher who can finish around the rim. He is also a better defender than Reginald, averaging 1.3 steals per game this season.

Hansbrough also knows a thing or two about sibling rivalry.

Most people will always remember him as Tyler’s little brother. The elder Hansbrough left North Carolina as one of the most decorated Tar Heels of all time, forcing basketball historians to italicize his name in the UNC Diaspora alongside greats such as Michael Jordan, James Worthy, and Phil Ford.

But, Tyler has moved on to the NBA and Ben is ready to emerge from his brother’s shadow.

Ben came off the bench his freshman year to spell Gordon, averaging 7.3 points and 3.2 assists per game, while giving coach Rick Stansbury another steady option at point guard. Despite averaging 10.5 points per game his sophomore year, Hansbrough never quite lived up to the hype that followed the gangling freshman before he ever stepped onto the court at the Hump.

At Notre Dame, Hansbrough once again finds himself on a team with a strong inside-out duo in Luke Harangody and Tory Jackson. Only this time around, he is getting significant minutes for a Fighting Irish team that was ranked before their loss to Northwestern on Nov. 27 in the Chicago Invitational. Hansbrough is averaging 11.0 points and 4.9 assists, both career highs.

While the season is still young, Hansbrough appears to be coming into his own as a playmaker on an Irish team that was ranked before losing to surprising Northwestern.