“I have decided to commit to Mississippi State.” With that
Travis Outlaw made his decision public in a 9:00 a.m. press conference held in the Starkville High School library. Outlaw, a 6-foot 10-inch rising senior told about a dozen local reporters of the decision. He will sign a national letter of intent in November to play basketball for Mississippi State starting in the 2003-2004 season.
“I wanted to stay close to home,” Outlaw said sitting a table flanked by his parents and five other family members. “I’m kind of a Momma’s and Daddy’s boy. I also feel comfortable with the decision.”
The 190-pound small forward entertained offers from several schools including Louisville, LSU and Alabama. He also thought about Florida and Tennessee. However when push came to shove, there were only two schools that made the final cut – State and the University of Memphis. “Really it came down to Mississippi State,” Outlaw said.
Travis Outlaw announcing his intention to play
basketball at Mississippi State University beginning in August 2003. Outlaw is a rising
senior at Starkville (Mississippi) High School, which is located within 2
miles of the MSU campus.
“I went to Memphis but in reality both schools told me about the same thing,” Outlaw said as he detailed some of the recruiting process. “They both promised they’d work with me and I have family in both areas. It really came down to where I wanted to be with the most. I chose my mom and dad over my grandma.”
Living in Starkville, Outlaw has watched the Bulldogs for many years, and likes the team he is joining. “They’ve come pretty far. This year they made it to the NCAA Tournament and lost in the second round. You can tell they’ve made a lot of improvement and I want to be part of that.”
At the same time that he’s watched the Bulldogs play, he’s also had the chance to visit and get to know some of their players. “I like how the players help each other out and show the each other what you’re doing wrong without getting mad at each other. They treat each other like brothers. I like that.”
As a junior last year, Outlaw averaged about 25 points a game, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, and 10 blocked shots. When asked about a specific area that he wants to improve on this fall, Outlaw quickly responded, “Physical play, I need to be more physical.” He also said that he wants to put on another 15 to 20 pounds before his senior season begins to get him in the 215-pound neighborhood.
Now that the hard part of the decision-making process is over, Outlaw can concentrate on a couple of priorities before leaving Starkville High School. “I want to win a state championship and be named the state’s player of the year. I want both of them, not just one. I know there is a lot of work to be done.”
“We’re all happy that Travis chose Mississippi State,” said his father, John Outlaw. “It was a real close decision between the University of Memphis and Mississippi State. His grandmother and several aunts live in Tennessee. Travis has had a relationship with
(MSU) coach (Rick) Stansbury and (assistant) coach (Robert) Kirby since the eighth grade. They were the ones that first told us that Travis has a very bright future in playing basketball. They first saw his talent, as an eighth grader. I thought he was about average but I critique him hard. I’m just glad that this process has come to a conclusion. Now he can get on with his life and enjoy the remainder of his senior year and not be pressured by anyone.”
“I’m really excited,” said Travis’
mother Markeeta Outlaw. “He knocked on knocked on our bedroom door about
4:00 a.m. He said, “Are ya’ll asleep?” He came in and shared a lot
of things on his mind. After talking about it, he made up his mind. Going
to Mississippi State is what he wants to do. He said he was very happy
with Coach Stansbury. I was really excited because he’ll play right down
the street and that means that we can make all the games and also help
with his problems too. It’s good for us.”
“I think Travis will help Mississippi State as a freshman,” said
Starkville High School basketball coach Greg Carter, who himself played
and coached at Mississippi State. “There will be some improvements and
adjustments that he’ll have to make when he begins playing at that
level. The game is so much quicker and more physical than here at the high
school level. He’ll make that adjustment and become and impact player.
How much of an impact remains to be seen because there is less margin for
error at that level. I think that Coach Stansbury will do a good job of
developing Travis’ talents. He won’t try to do too much too soon. He
knows exactly what he wants to do with him.”
Outlaw and his high school coach Greg Carter.
Carter is a former MSU player and assistant coach.
Carter also downplayed his own importance in
the decision making process. “I really didn’t have to do that much.
His dad played college basketball. Both his parents are really
knowledgeable in the basketball world. They knew what he’d be looking
for. So I didn’t have to give him a lot of advice. His parents did it
all. They saw that Travis would be comfortable at Mississippi State.”