STARKVILLE – It was no more than a two-minute conversation that
changed Wes Flanigan’s life and brought him back to state of
Flanigan was announced as the newest addition to the Mississippi State
University men’s basketball coaching staff after spending the previous
two seasons under Doc Sadler at the University of Nebraska.
“Honestly it was yesterday that he called me and said ‘I’m going into
a meeting but if you want the job, it’s yours’,” Flanigan said. “I may
not have been on the phone with him for more than two minutes.”
Flanigan has had a relationship with Bulldogs new men’s basketball
head coach Rick Ray for about 12-15 years dating back to him being an
AAU coach in his home town of Little Rock, Ark., and an Indiana State
University assistant coach was interested in his point guard.
“He was new to the coaching business and so was I so we would see each
other in the same gyms,” Flanigan said. “He wanted and signed a guard
of mine named Gabriel Moore and had a great career at ISU. That’s how
it started with us and he knew he could trust me as a coach and a
Moore would end up averaging double figures for the Sycamores program
in his final three seasons while starting 104 games in his four-year
“I was really impressed with him then, and I’m even more impressed now
(because) he’s exactly what I was looking for,” Ray said in a
university release. “He has impeccable character. He’s tough and he
knows how to grind. He’s really going to help us in the border states
of Arkansas and Alabama in recruiting, and that was a huge criteria
Flanigan has more than a decade of experience in the coaching ranks
with stops at Nebraska, University of Alabama at Birmingham,
University of Arkansas at Little Rock and at Northwest Community
College in Senatobia.
“I’m so excited about being back in the Southeastern Conference and at
Mississippi State because Richard Williams recruited my brother to his
program what seems like a long time ago,” Flanigan said.
At Nebraska, Flanigan worked with both post players and guards. Under
his guidance, all three of the Huskers’ primary post players two years
ago shot better than 51 percent from the floor and combined for 86
“I don’t think there is anything Wes can’t do when it comes to
coaching,” Sadler said. “He can go anywhere in the country and
recruit, but his greatest contribution is recruiting in the South.”
At UAB, he worked primarily with the perimeter players. In 2008-09,
the Blazers drained 228 3-pointers, the third-highest total in school
history. UAB finished with a 25-9 record in 2009-10, including an 11-5
Conference USA finish, before reaching the quarterfinals of the NIT.
Flanigan said he hasn’t had a conversation yet with Ray about what
he’s on-the-court primary focus would be but he’s already been handed
some recruiting responsibilities via a 15-minute phone call Thursday.
“He threw out some things that we need to be doing recruiting and
that’s the life blood to any program,” Flanigan said. “We just trying
to reach out to some kids and figure out where we need to spend our
Ray’s first hire to his staff Thursday morning was in the form of
retaining a key member of last year’s MSU bench. Ray kept his word
when he said he wanted to keep a member of last year’s staff with the
announcement of George Brooks returning as an assistant coach.
“I always had the intention of keeping somebody from the former staff
for continuity, and George was a guy who did a great job of recruiting
me to Mississippi State,” Ray said. “That showed me how good of a
recruiter he is.”
Brooks, who played at MSU from 1992-94, returned to his alma mater in
2010 after spending 12 years overseeing the program at Meridian
Community College, where his teams won numerous conference
“I really needed someone that can point me in the right direction of
recruiting in our state, and I know George is very well connected in
Mississippi,” Ray said.
Brooks, 38, is noted for having a very good relationship with MSU star
guard Rodney Hood, who has participated in offseason workouts and
weight training sessions, in his time in Rodney’s hometown of
Meridian. Hood is the leading returning scorer off this past season’s
“I’m just thankful I get to stay at the university I love, and one
that is home for me,” said Brooks, who was also a student assistant
coach for the 1996 Final Four team. “I’m really excited about the
opportunity to work with one of the top up-and-coming coaches in the
country and continue to build on the tradition at Mississippi State.”
Ray still has one more full-time coaching staff position to announce
and said that staff member will be a “wild card” hire and could take
some more time to be found.
“I want a wild card, a guy who recruits me,” Ray said Monday.