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Peters leads by example for MSU men's basketball team

 

Brett Hudson

 

 

STARKVILLE -- Even in a game week, Lamar Peters was showing up to practice sweaty. 

 

Mississippi State's sophomore point guard would show up to the practice facility for a team workout looking like he already had one on his own -- because he did. MSU coach Ben Howland later found out that on the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday before the Friday exhibition against West Florida, Peters ran a mile before showing up for the team workout. 

 

He did it because he wanted to get in better shape -- all part of his offseason-long quest to be a better point guard. 

 

MSU opens it regular season 5:30 p.m. Friday (SEC Network+) against Alabama State and will likely feature heavy doses of Peters at point guard. The jump from the freshman to sophomore season is supposed to be one of the biggest ones in a player's career and Peters has worked to make sure that's the case, but the road there has been far from easy. 

 

It started with the rough ending to last season. 

 

The seven-game losing streak at the end of the regular season and the second-round exit in the Southeastern Conference Tournament took a toll on Peters. Peters wasn't particularly strong in that stretch, either, scoring 10 points once in the last seven games despite averaging over 22 minutes per game in that span. The experience taught him one thing. 

 

"I know fatigue played a big role in our season last year," Peters said. "I wanted to get better with my attitude, being more coachable, and just being a leader. After we lost to Alabama in the SEC Tournament, I really wanted to focus in, block everything else out that didn't matter, just focus on us, our team and the game." 

 

In the offseason, he did just that. Under the direction of new strength and conditioning coach Collin Crane, Peters felt like he was in better shape and said he had gained eight pounds by August. His new body performed well in a summer Adidas event in which he impressed scouts to the point that he's been named in some mock drafts in the preseason. 

 

Then came the injury. 

 

Peters suffered a preseason injury that kept him out for enough time to more or less negate the condition he was in entering the preseason. That's what inspired the mile runs before the West Florida scrimmage. 

 

Peters said he's still working with Crane to get himself back in shape: extra running, extra conditioning sessions, etc. 

 

That time off-the-floor still gave him valuable experience. 

 

When Howland looked at Peters coming out of Landry-Walker High School in the New Orleans area, he saw a point guard's body that wasn't playing the position exclusively. Peters spent a lot of time off the ball at Landry-Walker, so when Howland made Peters a full-time point guard as a freshman, it was throwing Peters into the fire a bit. 

 

With that experience, he was given a different view of things to expand his knowledge base: Howland said when Quinndary and Nick Weatherspoon were manning point guard in practice while Peters was out, he would conversate with Peters about what was happening on the floor to make sure he was understanding what was happening and what to do if he were in that situation. 

 

"It helped me a lot, I learned a lot by watching. I knew what I had to come in working on," Peters said. "Watching the game was big: you always have to sit and learn sometimes, you can't always play. 

 

"I learned how to set the team up, be more vocal, talk to others and lead the team." 

 

As Howland put it, "I think he's much improved from what he was a year ago." 

 

MSU finds out for sure Friday. 

 

Perry signs with MSU: The Mississippi State men's basketball program may have only gotten one signee when the signing period opened up Wednesday, but it was a big one. 

 

Reggie Perry, a power forward out of Thomasville, Georgia, is rated as the best player in the state of Georgia and the third-best power forward in the nation in the Class of 2018. He followed in his father Al's footsteps in signing to play for MSU; Al was a point guard for MSU and remains third in school history in assist. 

 

"Everybody agrees, there's a consensus, this kid is a McDonald's All-American player," MSU coach Ben Howland said. "The thing I'm most impressed about watching him is his ability passing the ball and creating for others. He's very, very skilled: shoots really well, rebounds well, has had a lot of experience in terms of international experience." 

 

Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on Twitter @Brett_Hudson

 

 

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