Any successful coach, business owner, or leader will undoubtedly tell you they are only as good as the people around them.
The same will hold true of the Mississippi State basketball staff in which Rick Ray has set out to assemble.
The newly appointed head of MSU basketball has a vision of what his staff must consist of in order to be successful, broken into three areas.
First, Ray is looking to retain a current member of the MSU staff. This is a crucial component in making a smooth transition into the new era of Bulldog basketball.
“My role is to sit down and talk with the current staff here,” Ray said. “I would like to have at least one guy to retain from that staff. Now, we have to be on the same page. The guy has to understand what I want in the program, what I want out of an assistant and my vision of the program. They always talk about loyalty among assistants. I have to make sure I have that person’s loyalty in the program. That’s my first goal.”
Marcus Grant and George Brooks will be the two candidates to stay on with the Bulldogs.
Phil Cunningham, State’s top assistant, declined an opportunity to fly with Scott Stricklin to New Orleans to meet the newly hired Ray in order to pursue other opportunities.
The second step for Ray was to have a friendly face join him at MSU.
“My second goal is I’m going to go out and get someone who knows me and knows my system, so when I’m out recruiting, I can make sure things are being taught the way I want them to be taught,” Ray said. “I have a couple of guys in mind. I’ve reached out to those guys already. We’re going to see what happens. I need to sit down and talk with Scott about specifics with the staff.”
For his final spot on the staff, Ray looks to follow the model Stricklin used. That means he’s looking for someone who is hungry for he opportunity.
“The last guy (for the staff), I want a wild card,” Ray said with passion. “I want a guy who recruits me. I want a guy who really wants to come to Mississippi State.
“I’m going to leave that one open and see what happens. I want a guy who is going to pursue me, pursue this job. They always talk about the stray cat is sometimes your most loyal cat. We’re going to see what happens.”
Like all good things, it may take some time to put this group together and that’s OK with Ray.
“I’m going to put together a fantastic staff,” Ray said. “I want those guys to have the same values and a core feeling about basketball that I have. That’s going to take a little bit of time, I’m not going to rush this thing. I want to make sure that the guys that come in here know what Mississippi State basketball is about.
“I want guys that can go out there and get great players. I just want to make sure I’m getting a complete coach. I don’t want a guy that is an ace recruiter but doesn’t know how to scout. I don’t want a guy that’s an X’s and O’s guy who can’t go get me a player. I want a well-rounded guy.”