MOUNTAIN BROOK, Ala. • As Lamar Peters has moved on to the NBA, Nick Weatherspoon is the easy choice to run the point for Mississippi State.
When he’s available.
As Weatherspoon serves a 10-game suspension to start the season, Tyson Carter is just as easy a choice to play point guard.
MSU coach Ben Howland thought the Weatherspoon suspension would be less than 10 games, but he’s confident in Carter, a senior from Starkville who has played mostly shooting guard in his first three seasons with the Bulldogs.
“His experience, his understanding of possession of the ball, doing a good job running our offense,” are the things that made Carter his first choice, Howland told writers Wednesday at the SEC Tipoff media gathering.
Carter shot 36.6 percent from 3-point range and averaged 10.4 points in 25.6 minutes a game for last year’s 23-11 NCAA Tournament team.
Freshman Iverson Molinar will spell Carter at the point during Weatherspoon’s absence.
Howland said Carter’s experience is also why he’s not tempted to go straight to Molinar and keep Carter at the 2 guard.
Plus, point guard is still somewhat a new position for the athletic Molinar, a native of Panama who played at a California prep school before signing with the Bulldogs.
“Athletically he’s really special. He may be our best finisher at the rim in transition,” Howland said. “Point is something we’re helping him transition to.”
Howland could see the Weatherspoon suspension coming, so he and Carter have had the benefit of time to get ready for this stretch.
“I’ve been working on it all summer,” Carter said.
Carter (6-foot-4, 175) was the primary point guard for his father, former MSU star Greg Carter, at Starkville High School.
While he knows his way around the program there are adjustments he’s having to make mostly in moving from a shoot first to pass first mindset.
Sophomore forward Reggie Perry, a preseason first-team All-SEC selection, averaged 9.7 points and 7.2 rebounds last year and gave brief consideration to turning pro before returning to school.
He’ll be one of the first options Carter tries to find.
“Probably there’s just more pressure to get everybody involved. At the college level you’ve got great players around, and you’ve got to make sure you get everybody involved,” Carter said.
Carter’s biggest challenge will be on the defensive end, Howland said.
“Where he’s going to struggle is guarding those quick little guys that are so strong at the point. That’s something he’s got to really meet the challenge of.”
Carter was fourth on the team with 52 assists last season when passing was not his primary role.
“When you’re playing off guard the main thing you look for is to score,” Carter said. “Now I’ve got to make sure I get my teammates involved and that I’m the captain of the team.”