I think it highly unlikely that MSU guards Dee Bost (pictured above) and Ravern Johnson will keep their names in the NBA Draft pool , as neither is, in my humble opinion, ready for the next level.
But let’s discuss a hypothetical situation and say that both of them do leave the team. How well could the Bulldogs fill those holes?
There’s no question the backcourt is deep. Besides Bost and Johnson (who have until Saturday to withdraw from the draft if they hope to return to school) here is who could or should log minutes next season (in alphabetical order):
• Twany Beckham: Bost’s backup, he missed all last season after having surgery on both his hips. As a true freshman in 2008-09, Beckham averaged 1.6 points and 1.2 assists per game in 33 games. He wasn’t much of a shooter or as good a ball-handler as you’d like in a point, and I don’t see him as starting material. But he does have experience and is strong.
• Riley Benock: As a junior, he played a significant role off the bench for what was a thin backcourt, averaging 11.6 minutes and 1.7 points per game. The ongoing issue with Benock is his hesitancy to shoot the ball. He made 17-of-52 shots from 3-point range (32.7 percent), and that number really should be higher. He brings good size (6-foot-4, 180 pounds) and solid defense to the table.
• Brian Bryant: He’ll arrive this summer after a fine career at Northwest Florida State College, where he earned third-team NJCAA All-America honors after his sophomore season. The 6-3, 160-pounder averaged 21 points and 9 rebounds per game, and he can play the one, two, or three spots. He supposedly can defend, too, so he should be ready to step in and play right away. Question is, where?
• Shaun Smith: It’s assumed that Smith will be a good one, but hard to say yet. He tried to play this year but ultimately had to sit because of injuries that he brought with him from Noxubee County High School. He’s a scorer, we know that, and at 6-6, 195 could play on the wing in MSU’s three-guard and four-guard lineups.
• Jalen Steele: This kid, out of Fulton High School in Knoxville, looks like the second coming of Barry Stewart . He signed just last week after being released from his scholarship at Auburn (he left due to a coaching change). He’s 6-3, can shoot and plays defense. That sounds like a Rick Stansbury player right there. But will he play right away? I’d say that, if possible, he should be redshirted. But in this hypothetical scenario, that might not be possible.
• Phil Turner: Ah, Mr. X Factor. He can play every position but the pivot (and probably could play that if he just had to), but he really belongs at the two spot, or at least the three,which is where Johnson plays. He could run the point, too, and I wonder who of him, Beckham and Bryant would log the most minutes there. Turner was a starter as a sophomore but last season came off the bench, which isn’t to his liking (he was always diplomatic when talking about playing time, I should point out). He can be a boost off the pine, but I think he could do more as a starter. He averaged 5.5 points and 4.3 rebounds last year.
So many possible combinations, aren’t there? So I ask you, readers, which combinations would work best if Bost and Johnson take off?