Consistency is a key ingredient to the recent success enjoyed by the Mississippi State University basketball program. It is that consistency stressed in the players' daily activities on and off the basketball floor that has translated into the program's recent run of national prominence gained under head coach Rick Stansbury.
That consistency was brought to the forefront three years ago when MSU's 13th-year head basketball coach became the all-time winningest basketball coach in school history, surpassing Richard Williams' mark of 191. With an 12-year coaching record of 255-140 (.646) at the Bulldog helm, Stansbury has guided 10 State squads (6 NCAA & 4 NIT) to postseason tournament appearances and nine clubs to 20-plus wins campaigns. Prior to Stansbury taking over MState's head coaching duties in 1998, the Bulldogs had totaled seven postseason tournament berths and eclipsed the 20-win mark just seven times in the school's 86 previous years of basketball competition.
MSU has averaged 21 wins per season the last five years (2006-10), and under Standsbury's guidance, the Bulldogs won an outright SEC overall championship in 2004, the 2010 Western Division title to go along with back-to-back SEC West crowns in the 2003-2004 and 2007-2008 seasons, as well as the SEC Tournament titles in 2002 and 2009.
Most recently, Stansbury piloted last year's 24-12 State squad to its second-straight SEC Tournament finals after claiming the Western Division championship. From 2001-05, he guided MSU to five-consecutive postseason tournament appearances for the first time in school history, including a streak of four straight NCAA Tournament berths from 2002 through 2005.
MSU's recent streak of collecting hardwood hardware was highlighted by the 2003-04 State squad claiming the school's first outright SEC title since 1962-63 with a school-best 14-2 league mark and 26-4 overall record. For MSU's 2003-04 successes, which included an undefeated season (8-0) in SEC road play, a No. 4 regular-season national AP ranking and a school-best No. 2 NCAA Tournament seeding, Stansbury was named the SEC's AP Coach of the Year. He also collected district coaching honors from the NABC and USBWA.
MState's recent string of success began with the 2001-02 Bulldog team claiming the school's second SEC Tournament title on the way to establishing a new single-season standard with 27 victories.
With six NCAA Tournament appearances (2002-05, 2008 & 2009), four NIT showings (1999, 2001, 2007 & 2010), as well as an overall Southeastern Conference championship (2004), five SEC Western Division crowns (2003, 2004, 2007, 2008 & 2010) and two SEC Tournament titles (2002 & 2009) in his prior 12 seasons at the Mississippi State helm, Stansbury has become the first coach in the school's 97-year basketball history to record four consecutive 20-win seasons (2002-05) as well as establishing school firsts with five-straight postseason tournament appearances (2001-05) and five-successive NCAA Tournament berths.
As an eight-year assistant coach on Richard Williams' MSU staff, Stansbury previously played an instrumental role in helping Mississippi State secure the talent that enabled the Bulldogs to enjoy their most successful decade ever on the hardwood. Stansbury's proven track record as a tireless recruiter and knowledgeable tactician made him the obvious choice to replace Williams as the school's 18th head basketball coach. Just one day following the retirement of Mississippi State's all-time winningest basketball coach, Stansbury succeeded his former mentor on March 13, 1998.
Following a 16-year collegiate stint in the assistant coaching ranks, Stansbury immediately made his presence felt as a head man by becoming the most successful first-year basketball coach in school history. His 1998-99 Bulldog club capped a successful 20-13 rookie campaign by advancing to the semifinals of the SEC Tournament and earning a berth in the 1999 NIT. Two years later, Stansbury's Bulldogs set the table for their subsequent run of three consecutive SEC championships - regular season, divisional or tournament - by advancing to the quarterfinals of the 2001 TiVo NIT before being eliminated by eventual tournament champion Tulsa.
Having originally joined the Mississippi State family as an assistant coach on June 12, 1990, Stansbury immediately helped direct a senior-laden 1990-91 Bulldog ballclub to both the school's first Southeastern Conference basketball title and subsequent NCAA Tournament appearance in 28 years with a 20-9 overall record and 13-5 SEC mark.
All in all during his 20 prior seasons at MSU, including his previous eight-year stint as an assistant coach (the last four seasons as associate head coach) under Williams' tutelage, Stansbury has been a part of 396 victories and 14 postseason tournament teams. Highlighting his days as an MSU assistant coach, the Bulldogs exploded onto the national college basketball scene by advancing to the NCAA Sweet 16 in 1995 and then making a school-first appearance in the NCAA Final Four a year later in 1996. Since Stansbury's arrival on the State scene in 1990, the Bulldogs have also claimed the school's three SEC Tournament titles (1996, 2002 & 2009), two overall SEC championships (1991 & 2004) as well as seven SEC West crowns (1995, 1996, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008 & 2010).
As a result of Mississippi State's consistent roundball success during the past decade, Stansbury was recently tabbed by The Hoop Scoop as the nation's top-ranked 'Mid-Career' head coach in NCAA Division I men's basketball. In recognition of being regarded as one of the nation's most respected talent-seekers, Stansbury was most recently named the SEC's best recruiter by the Sporting News Yearbooks publication two years ago. He was also previously ranked among the top 20 recruiters in the country during a survey of 113 NCAA Division I basketball coaches conducted in the 1990s by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper.
Since joining the highly competitive Southeastern Conference coaching ranks 20 years ago, Stansbury has helped recruit and develop a total of 16 All-SEC players, including current standout Dee Bost, and six SEC All-Freshman Team selections. In addition, Mississippi State has had five All-SEC players (Tyrone Washington-1999; Mario Austin & Derrick Zimmerman-2003; 2003-04 SEC Player of the Year and All-American Lawrence Roberts-2005; Jarvis Varnado-2010) as well as three All-America high school signees from the state of Mississippi (Jonathan Bender-1999; Travis Outlaw-2003; and Monta Ellis-2005) selected in the NBA Draft since Stansbury took over MSU's head coaching duties in 1998. Roberts and Zimmerman made their NBA debuts with the Memphis Grizzlies and New Jersey Nets, respectively, in 2005-06, while Varnado was drafted by xxx in the xx round this past June.
Dedicated to a program committed to keeping the state of Mississippi's best roundball talent at home, Stansbury is the man most responsible for MSU's recent trend of inking Mississippi high school players of the year. The Bulldogs have signed numerous Mississippi prep players of the year during his successful association with the team's basketball program and was instrumental in securing in-state talent Monta Ellis of perennial State powerhouse Lanier High School in Jackson, Miss. Drafted by the NBA's Golden State Warriors in 2005, Ellis became MSU's fourth McDonald's High School All-American signee over a recent seven-year span. Two years ago, he nabbed one of the more heralded recruits this decade with the signing of Mississippi native Renardo Sidney, a Top 5 recruit who spent the past three years in Los Angeles that will make his debut this fall.
Prior to Ellis, local Starkville (Miss.) High School product Travis Outlaw was selected in the first round of the 2003 NBA Draft (23rd pick overall) by the Portland Trail Blazers. Prior to that, Stansbury and his hard-working staff of assistants had inked McDonald's High School All-Americans during back-to-back years for the first time in school history with the signings of Mario Austin and Jonathan Bender. Bender recently retired from professional basketball after struggling through seven injury-plagued seasons with the NBA's Indiana Pacers. A highly touted prep standout at Picayune (Miss.) Memorial High School, Bender became a lottery pick (No. 5 selection overall by the Toronto Raptors) in the 1999 NBA Draft after breaking Michael Jordan's previous McDonald's All-American Game scoring record.
One of Stansbury's most lauded recruiting coups during his eight-year stint as an MSU assistant coach, Erick Dampier is presently participating in his 15th NBA season to rank second behind former NBA All-Star Jeff Malone on MSU's all-time professional longevity list. Now in his seventh season with the Dallas Mavericks after a seven-year stint (1998-2004) with the Golden State Warriors and spending his rookie season (1996-97) with the Indiana Pacers, Dampier has totaled 7,179 points (7.8 ppg), 6,803 rebounds (7.4 rpg) and 1,347 blocked shots in 921 career NBA outings entering the 2010-11 campaign.
Following State's unprecedented run to the 1996 NCAA Final Four, Dampier (10th pick overall) and Dontae' Jones, a New York Knicks first-round selection (21st), became the first Bulldog duo in school history to be chosen in the first round of the NBA Draft during the same year. Jones' arrival at State in 1995 from Northeast Mississippi Community College began a three-year run of first-team junior college All-Americans to sign with MSU. Horatio Webster and Detrick White, former high school and junior college teammates at Durant (Miss.) High School and Connors State (Okla.) College, followed suit the next two years.
Along with having the staff's primary recruiting responsibilities during his productive stint as a Bulldog assistant coach, Stansbury was being groomed for his subsequent promotion to head coach. Under Williams' guidance, he was also charged with Mississippi State's all-important scouting duties, along with being actively involved in the program's schedule-making process and popular summer basketball camps.
Prior to joining the Mississippi State coaching staff at the start of the 1990s, Stansbury previously logged a six-year stint as an assistant basketball coach at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tenn. Working alongside his good friend and former APSU head coach Lake Kelly, Stansbury was directly involved with a full scope of coaching responsibilities, including serving as recruiting coordinator. Similar to the success he has since helped bring to MSU's program, Stansbury helped guide Austin Peay to three consecutive winning campaigns, beginning with an Ohio Valley Conference Tournament championship and a subsequent NCAA Tournament second-round berth during the 1986-87 season in which the Governors posted a 20-12 mark.
During Stansbury's six-year association with Austin Peay's roundball program, the Governors compiled an 87-89 (.494) composite record, including a 40-40 regular-season conference mark and an 8-5 OVC Tournament record. With the team's postseason tournament success in league play, APSU landed a total of seven players, including two tourney MVPs, on the OVC All-Tournament team over a four-year span.
A native of Battletown, Ky., Stansbury's 16-year career as an assistant basketball coach began at his alma mater. While earning a double major in business and physical education from Campbellsville (Ky.) College (now Campbellsville University) in 1982, Stansbury was a four-year letterman as a backcourt performer. After helping lead the Tigers to the 1979 KIAC Tournament championship and a regular-season league title the following year, Stansbury averaged 12 points per game as a senior starter to help pace Campbellsville to the school's first District 32 crown and an appearance in the 1981 NAIA Tournament.
Setting out on his basketball coaching career while also completing his bachelor's degree requirements, Stansbury stayed on the following season (1981-82) as a student assistant on the late Lou Cunningham's Campbellsville staff. Stansbury would later hire Cunningham's son, Phil, as an assistant coach on his Mississippi State staff in 2000 after the two had previously worked together on Williams' MSU staff during the 1991-92 campaign.
Stansbury then served as a graduate assistant on coach Randy Vernon's staff at Cumberland College in Williamsburg, Ky. While earning his master's degree in business education, Stansbury helped direct the 1983-84 Indian club to a 31-5 mark and second-round appearance in the NAIA Tournament.
Eight years ago in 2003, Stansbury was honored by his alma mater as an inductee into the Campbellsville University Athletic Hall of Fame, along with former Tiger head football coach Sam Wickliffe. In October 1999, Stansbury was previously honored by the Campbellsville Alumni Association as a proud recipient of the school's Distinguished Alumni Award.
Most recently during the summer months, Stansbury has made off-the-court contributions to society by donating his time and energy to Camp Rising Sun, a camp located in nearby Columbus, Miss., that caters to children ages 6-14 who are being treated, or have been treated, for cancer. On a regional scale, Stansbury volunteered in 2005 to serve on the organizing committee of Coaches Care, a group of coaches united to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina.
The son of the late Robert Stansbury and the late Norma Stansbury of Battletown, Ky., Stansbury is a 1977 graduate of Meade County High School in Brandenburg, Ky., where he was a four-year basketball letterman and three-time all-district performer. As a prep senior, Stansbury was voted the team's most improved player after averaging 15 points per game.
Stansbury's father, Robert, who had been the head coach's special guest during MSU's run to the 2002 SEC Tournament championship earlier that year in Atlanta, passed away following a courageous battle with cancer just as preseason basketball practice tipped off in 2002. Ironically, the coach's mother, Norma, passed away on Nov. 17, 1998 in Florida on the day her son was making his MSU coaching debut in Jackson, Miss.
Stansbury, who will turn 51 on Dec. 23, 2010, is married to the former Meo Mellen of Roanoke, Va. They are the proud parents of three sons -- Isaac, who will turn 11 years old on Dec. 14, 2009; Noah, who will celebrate his ninth birthday on April 26, 2010; and Luke, who turned 6 years old this past July.
- 1981-82: Student Assistant Coach, Campbellsville [KY] College
- 1983-84: Graduate Assistant Coach, Cumberland [KY] College
- 1985-90: Assistant Coach, Austin Peay State University
- 1990-94: Assistant Coach, Mississippi State University
- 1995-98: Associate Head Coach, Mississippi State University
- 1998-present: Head Coach, Mississippi State University
- Four-year (1979-82) starter at Campbellsville [KY] College
- Helped Tigers to an NAIA Championships berth as a senior
State Success During Rick Stansbury Era
- Entering his 13th season at the helm, Rick Stansbury is MSU's all-time winningest coach with 255 victories.
- The Bulldogs have averaged 21 wins per season and have participated in post-season tournament play 10 times (6 NCAA & 4 NIT).
- Mississippi State made five-consecutive postseason tournament appearances (2001-05) for the first time in school history, including a streak of four-straight NCAA Tournament berths from 2002-05.
- The Bulldogs have won 20-plus games nine times under Stansbury's guidance.
- Since 1998-99, MSU is the winningest program in the SEC Western Division and is third overall behind Kentucky and Florida.
- In the last eight years, only one team in the SEC has won five divisional titles. Mississippi State.
- In the last 12 years, MSU has produced a collective total of 35 SEC Academic Honor Roll recipients.
RICK STANSBURY’S MSU CAREER RECORD AS AN ASSISTANT BASKETBALL COACH
1990-91 (MSU) 20-9 .690 NCAA tourney (1st Round) T-1st in SEC (13-5)
1991-92 (MSU) 15-13 .536
1992-93 (MSU) 13-16 .448
1993-94 (MSU) 18-11 .621 NIT (1st Round) 3rd in SEC West (9-7)
1994-95 (MSU) 22-8 .733 NCAA Sweet 16 T-1st in SEC West (12-4)
1995-96 (MSU) 26-8 .765 NCAA Final Four 1st in SEC West; won SEC trny
1996-97 (MSU) 12-18 .400
1997-98 (MSU) 15-15 .500
8-yr MSU totals 141-98 .590 3 NCAA & 1 NIT; 1 SEC trny title; 3 reg-season league titles
RICK STANSBURY’S CAREER RECORD AS HEAD BASKETBALL COACH AT MSU
1998-99 20-13 .606 8-8/t-3rd (W) NIT (1st Rnd) Semis of SEC Tournament
1999-00 14-16 .467 5-11/t-5th (W)
2000-01 18-13 .581 7-9/t-4th (W) NIT (Quarters)
2001-02 27-8 .771 10-6/2nd (W) NCAA (2nd Rnd) 2nd in SEC West; Won SEC trny title
2002-03 21-10 .677 9-7/1st (W) NCAA (1st Rnd) 1st in SEC West; Finals of SEC trny
2003-04 26-4 .867 14-2/1st NCAA (2nd Rnd) 1st in SEC; 1st in SEC West
2004-05 23-11 .676 9-7/3rd (W) NCAA (2nd Rnd) 4th straight winning season in SEC play
2005-06 15-15 .500 5-11/4th (W)
2006-07 21-14 .600 8-8/t-1st (W) NIT (Semifinals) T-1st in SEC West; Semis of SEC trny
2007-08 23-11 .676 12-4/1st (W) NCAA (2nd Rnd) Semis of SEC trny
2008-09 23-13 .639 9-6/1st (W) NCAA (1st Rnd) Won SEC trny title
2009-10 24-12 .667 9-7/1st (W) NIT (2nd Rnd) Finals of SEC trny
12-yr totals 255-140 .646 105-87 (.547) 6 NCAA; 4 NIT; 1 SEC title; 6 West titles; 2 SEC trny titles
RICK STANSBURY’S CAREER RECORD AS COLLEGIATE BASKETBALL COACH
20-yr MSU totals 396-238 .622 9 NCAA; 5 NIT; 2 SEC; 8 SEC West titles; 3 SEC trny titles