Mississippi State forward Reggie Perry was named the MVP of the FIBA World Cup Sunday after helping lead the U19 USA National Team to a title. Perry averaged 13.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists in seven international contests. Photo by: Dispatch File Photo
July 10, 2019 9:12:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Just more than a month ago, Mississippi State sophomore forward Reggie Perry's future was decidedly unsettled.
With his name still entered in the NBA Draft and the June 10 early-entrant withdrawal deadline fast approaching, MSU looked as though it would need to replace the former five-star recruit in 2020.
That changed on May 28, when Perry decided to return to Starkville for his sophomore year -- writing on Twitter "The marathon continues."
In the time since Perry's announcement, the big-man has continued to flash the impressive skillset that earned him All-SEC Freshman honors in 2019.
A member of the U19 USA National Team during its recent run to the FIBA World Cup title in Greece, Perry averaged 13.1 points, 7.9 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game in seven contests.
He was named to the FIBA World Cup All-Star 5 Team and earned Most Valuable Player Honors after helping Team USA to a 7-0 record and a 93-79 victory over Mali in the championship game Sunday.
Perry's biggest game of the tournament came in a quarterfinal victory over Russia in which he totaled 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting and collected eight rebounds.
"I just want to thank USA basketball for this wonderful opportunity," he said in a news release. "It was an honor to represent my country. This is something I will never forget."
Though Perry, 19, was one of the older players on the roster, his MVP honors carry legitimate weight. Joining him on Team USA were seven current 247Sports.com five-star recruits -- including four of the top six players in the class of 2020.
Alabama's Kira Lewis Jr., Purdue's Trevion Williams, Iowa State's Tyrese Haliburton and Oklahoma State's Isaac Likekele comprised the other collegiate players on the roster.
"I think he's playing with a lot of really good players on his team," MSU coach Ben Howland said earlier this summer. "I mean that team is loaded with talent."
Howland also referenced Perry's time with USA basketball as a chance compete against top-flight international opponents.
"It is a great opportunity for him on a lot of fronts," Howland said. "They are playing against really good teams who are the best teams in the world. It is a very prestigious thing that he is involved with and quite an honor. Every NBA team will be there watching him play [in Greece]."
With the US National Team experience in tow, Perry will now turn his sights toward the college season.
Given the departures of Quinndary Weatherspoon, Lamar Peters and Aric Holman to the NBA, the 2020 version of the Bulldogs figures to lean on Perry and classmate Robert Woodard II in the frontcourt rather than last season's guard dominant approach.
For Perry, this year will afford a chance to take what he learned from NBA scouts during the pre-draft process and apply it to his game in hopes of jumping to the professional ranks next spring.
"I think he really benefited from going through the NBA process," Howland said. "You can see the change and growth in his game having gone through the rigors of working out for teams and going through the combine."
MSU's 2019-2020 schedule has yet to be completely formulated, though SEC matchups and a handful of nonconference opponents have been announced.
In conference play, Howland's bunch will face Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri and South Carolina twice, both home and away.
MSU's single-game SEC slate includes trips to LSU, Florida, Kentucky and Texas A&M, while Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Georgia and Auburn will visit Starkville.
The Bulldogs will also face Kansas State in the Never Forget Tribute Classic December 14 in New Jersey and partake in the 2019 Myrtle Beach Invitational beginning Nov. 21.
MSU will return to the SEC/Big 12 Challenge after not participating in 2019 as well. Its opponent will reportedly be released in the near future.
Ben Portnoy reports on Mississippi State sports for The Dispatch.
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