By LEE ADAMS
Mississippi State point guard Dee Bost has two specific goals in mind.
He wants to be the best leader he can be for the Bulldogs and possibly set a record in the process.
Even though Bost sat out most of the first half of the season, he was still the team captain. That's a role he will take on again this season and he doesn't take it lightly.
"It's important to me," said Bost. "It's my responsibility to try to make sure that everybody's on the same page and everybody is doing good."
After last season's off the court events, keeping his teammates in check could be a challenge. Bost and his teammates are putting that behind them, but the memory of all that occurred is not forgotten.
"Last year was real stressful and while sitting out, it was very painful to watch my team go through what they went through," said Bost. "This year, we have a new team, new year and I'm starting fresh."
The off-the-court turmoil made things tough on the court for the Bulldogs, but not having Bost available due to NCAA forcing him to sit out the first of the season made things more difficult. This season, Mississippi State will have Bost on the court from day one.
"It was a challenge not having Dee those first 16 games last season," said MSU head coach Rick Stansbury. "To have him from day one is pretty valuable."
Bost played in and started 17 games last season and put up some impressive numbers. He averaged 15.3 points per game and finished the season with 106 assists. His assists puts him 65 away from the MSU record of 514 currently held by Derrick Zimmerman.
Bost is on pace to break the record, but that might surprise some people.
"Looking at Dee, he doesn't appear to be that assist guy, because he's looking to score," said Stansbury. "He's gotten better at that though and because he's been able to play four years, he's stocked up a lot of assists."
Passing the ball was a challenge for Bost early in his career at State because according to Stansbury, Bost was the number four guard in high school.
"He had no understanding about point guard play," said Stansbury. "He thought when we put the ball in his hands, you go score. That was his biggest adjustment for him because you don't have to score every trip to be a really good point guard."
After last season and Bost's performance during the current two-a-days and scrimmages, Stansbury likes where Bost's game is right now.
"I think he has a good balance right now," said Stansbury. "He can score that basketball a lot of different ways but at the same time, he's very comfortable getting other people the ball."
Going into this season, Bost has started in all 89 games he's played in which gives him tons of experience.
"There's no substitute for experience," said Stansbury. "He's a senior and he has some experience and he learns from his mistakes."
Bost has made some mistakes on the court, and was maybe even selfish early in his career, but now he's not worried about that because he's focused on making the Bulldogs the best team they can be and said "If we win, then I win."
During last season Bost made an impression on LSU's head coach Trent Johnson, when he put up 15 points in MSU's Feb. 23. loss.
"He's the ultimate competitor and a quality player," said Johnson. "I have nothing but the upmost respect for him, but the sooner he graduates the better off we'll be."
Johnson isn't the only Tiger impressed with Bost's ability and leadership.
"Last year, I had a chance to go against Dee and he is one of the best players in our league," said LSU's sophomore guard Ralston Turner. "He does a great job with his team and is an all-around player."
Bost takes his leadership role serious and even said that he "had to be a leader."
Not only did LSU take notice of Bost, so did the rest of the Southeastern Conference, who voted him first-team All-SEC this preseason.
Bost got very little attention from recruiters out of high school and flew under a lot of people's radar early in his time with the Bulldogs, but now his time has come.
"I've been patient, and God's got a plan for everybody and I guess my times coming," said Bost. "It feels good to be recognized as one of the top players."
Even with the All-SEC honor, Bost isn't changing his focus to expect more from the upcoming season.
"I have the same expectations I had last year," said Bost. "I just really want to win and get our team to the NCAA tournament."