For Starkville Daily News
After spending his freshman campaign at Louisiana Tech, Xavian Stapleton has decided to return to his home state to finish out his collegiate career.
On Monday, the 6-foot-6, 190-pound guard from Flora signed a financial agreement with MSU. Due to NCAA transfer rules, he’ll have to sit out this season, but will have three years of eligibility remaining starting in 2016-17.
“I’m excited about being back in Mississippi and being at Mississippi State,” said Stapleton, who went to Louisiana Tech following a stellar career at Madison Central. “I’m just ready to get to work and do my part to help this team. I think the future here is really exciting.”
In his lone season with the Bulldogs of Louisiana, Stapleton played in all 36 games and drew one start. He scored in double-digits six times and averaged 6.7 points. He was second on the team with 23 blocked shots, while he scored a career-high 18 points twice — Nicholls State (Dec. 18) and Middle Tennessee (Feb. 7).
He also earned Conference USA Freshman of the Week honors in early January after totaling 16 and 17 points against Southern Arkansas and Southern Miss, respectively.
He made national headlines in early March when his one-handed alley-oop earned him ESPN’s Top Play of the Day.
“We are extremely excited Xavian has decided to join us here at Mississippi State, and I think he is going to be an outstanding player with a very, very bright future,” first-year MSU coach Ben Howland said. “He is an extremely good athlete that has the ability to really shoot the ball, and I’m excited about his potential with his size combined with his athleticism and skill level. On top of all of that, Xavian is both a great person and solid student, and we are elated to have him join the Bulldogs.”
As a senior at Madison Central, Stapleton averaged 20.9 points and led the Jaguars to a 28-4 ledger after losing in the semifinals of the Class 6A playoffs, where he totaled 16 points against eventual champion Gulfport.
He was chosen to the Clarion Ledger’s Dandy Dozen after scoring 20-plus points 17 times and notching 15 double-doubles. He played in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Classic, where he recorded nine points and seven rebounds.
As a junior, Stapleton earned all-state and all-district honors after averaging 12 points, four rebounds and five assists. The Jaguars finished 25-9 and lost 63-54 to Murrah in the Class 6A championship game where he scored a team-high 15 points.