Mississippi St tabs Rick Ray as coach

Published Apr. 2, 2012 8:43 a.m. ET

STARKVILLE, Miss. -- Mississippi State hired Clemson assistant Rick Ray to be its next men's basketball coach.

The university announced Ray's hiring Sunday and scheduled a press conference for Monday morning.

The 40-year-old has been the top
assistant at Clemson for the past two seasons. The Tigers won 22 games
and went to the NCAA tournament in 2011. He also spent four years as an
assistant at Purdue under Matt Painter, where the Boilermakers made the
NCAA tournament every season -- including two Sweet 16 appearances.

Ray also spent seven seasons at Indiana State and two seasons at Northern Illinois.


Ray replaces Rick Stansbury, who
announced his retirement in March after 14 seasons leading the program.
The details of Ray's contract were not immediately released. Stansbury
was making nearly $1.5 million per year.

Mississippi State athletic director
Scott Stricklin said in a statement that Ray fit the model he wanted as a
head coach. Ray is the first African-American men's basketball coach at
the school.

"He is bright, enthusiastic,
disciplined and is a man of integrity," Stricklin said. "He has served
with some of the top head and assistant coaches in college basketball
and will bring a piece of all of them to our head coaching position."

Ray inherits a Mississippi State
program that's had several defections after finishing a disappointing
21-12 season that ended in the first round of the National Invitation
Tournament. Juniors Renardo Sidney and Arnett Moultrie left the program
to pursue professional careers while freshman DeVille Smith left to
transfer to another program.

The Bulldogs should still have a decent
nucleus led by Rodney Hood, who averaged 10.3 points and 4.8 rebounds
as a freshman. Guard Jalen Steele and forward Wendell Lewis also are
expected to return after having productive seasons.

Clemson coach Brad Brownell said Ray was well-respected in the coaching profession and would do well at Mississippi State.

"Rick is a terrific coach in every
sense of the word," Brownell said. "He is as consummate professional. He
is a relentless recruiter, has worked with some of the best X's and O's
coaches in the business, and is unbelievably bright."