STARKVILLE, Miss. — Mississippi State added a versatile wing player, who some inside the program believe can develop into an All-SEC player, to a 2018 class that has suddenly formed with a pair of important pieces.
D.J. Stewart, a four-star prospect from Riverside (Greenville, Miss.), announced Monday, he committed to the Bulldogs over offers from Alabama, Illinois and Ole Miss, he said.
In Stewart, whom Ben Howland and George Brooks primarily recruited, MSU gets an athletic player who can defend at either the point, two-guard or small forward position. Offensively, he projects as a capable scorer who can shoot from the perimeter at either the two or the three with solid passing skills. Sources close to the program also like Stewart because he has the potential to improve his game while also having a solid track record academically.
“Mississippi State coaches say that I have the potential to be a great player and they want to be able to coach me to help me reach that,” Stewart said. “The goal is to win in the SEC and I think this team can be a top two or three team down the road.”
Stewart is 6-foot-6 and 187 pounds, and will look to put on an additional 15-20 pounds in the next 18 months. He averaged 18.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 3.1 assists last season as a junior for Riverside.
“It’s a good fit, overall, for me,” Stewart said. “I can play the two or the three for them. Basketball is getting almost position-less, meaning everybody on the court needs to play fast, learn to dribble and be able to do everything.”
For MSU, it is also vital, from its perspective, to build the program with Mississippi players whenever it can.
A major target for MSU from Mississippi remains in Columbus four-star forward Robert Woodard, who is regarded as the state’s top player in this class. Woodard, whose father played at MSU, is the Bulldogs’ most significant uncommitted target. Sources indicated that MSU’s main competition for Woodard’s pledge is Alabama.
Another name to keep an eye on is Kamarian Williams, a forward for Cleveland Central. Williams, who played at East Side last year, is 6-foot-8 and 225 pounds and is attractive because of his shooting and defense, specifically his ability to make steals. Williams is not heavily recruited by others, but averaged 17.9 points and 11 rebounds per game last year.
With Stewart and five-star Reggie Perry, who projects as a stretch-four, MSU has a foundation for a strong class, which is needed after they finished 16-16 last year and added only five-star point guard Nick Weatherspoon and three-star forward Keyshawn Feazell as 2017 signees.
“There are a bunch of good players on this team now and I hope to play with them,” Stewart said. “I hope Perry signs because he is a good fit for this team, too.”