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STARKVILLE, Miss. (WCBI/MSU Athletics) – Recruiting is all about filling needs, and on Wednesday Rick Ray and his staff felt they did just that with the signing of three future Bulldogs – Demetrius Houston, Oliver Black, and Maurice Dunlap II.

(MSU Athletics)

(MSU Athletics)

Houston is a 6-foot-7 forward out of Carver High School in Montgomery, Ala., the same high school that produced current Bulldogs Craig Sword and Roquez Johnson. Black is a power forward from Jackson who is currently at IMG Academy in Florida, while Dunlap is a guard from Amanda Elzy High in Greenwood.

“Every time we set foot on the court, Demetrius will be one of the best, if not the best, athletes on the court,” said Ray, whose team returns to action Thursday at 7 p.m. against Kennesaw State.  “He is an elite athlete that comes from a tremendous program at Carver High School.  Coach Jackson has built a special program that has some of the same philosophies that we believe in here.  Demetrius is a tall, long wing that we do not have in our current program who will help us become a better rebounding and finishing team.”

Houston averaged 11 points and seven rebounds per game last season, as Carver High reached the Class 6A state semifinals for the fourth straight year under head coach James Jackson. Houston was also tabbed an Honorable Mention selection to the Class 6A All-State team.

Houston also received offers from Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, George Mason, and Seton Hall.

As a junior last season, Black averaged 10.1 points per game, nine rebounds, and five blocks for coach Herman Sanders at Wingfield High School.

The 6-foot-8 power forward scored a career-high 19 points in a loss to Meridian and also grabbed a career-high 15 rebounds in a loss to Brandon. Black also finished the 2012-13 season with a total of 59 blocked shots.

Black chose Mississippi State over Ole Miss, Tulane, Oklahoma, Missouri and Wichita State.

“Oliver is a young man who always had a high ceiling but continually got better every time I or my staff saw him play,” Ray said.  Oliver is a kid that I believe will blossom in our program with our emphasis on skill development.  But the biggest reason he will blossom is because of Oliver, he has a great work ethic!  Oliver will also be a huge help in an area that we struggled in last season, rebounding.  He chases and pursues rebounds with the best of them.”

A 6-foot-1 shooting guard from Greenwood, Miss., Dunlap averaged 14.2 points, 4.4 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game as a junior last season, leading Amanda Elzy to the Class 4A State Championship for the second year in a row and an overall 32-5 record.

In their run to the state championship last season, Dunlap scored a season-high total of 26 points in a loss to St. Rita (Ill.) on Nov. 21, 2012.

“Maurice and his family showed a lot of faith in me and our program when he committed to us in the summer soon after I got the job here at Mississippi State without a body of work in which to judge me,” Ray said.  “That faith meant a lot to my staff and I.  When it is all said and done, you need guys on your team who can simply shoot the basketball and Maurice is an excellent shooter.  He is a high character person that puts in extra time on the court to work on his game.”

In his sophomore season, Dunlap played in 14 games, averaging 16.1 points per game and scored a career-high 27 points in a win over Leflore County on Dec. 3, 2011.

Dunlap selected the Bulldogs over Ole Miss, Louisiana Tech, and Alcorn State.

“I want to commend Wes Flanigan, George Brooks, and Chris Hollender for their efforts in continually putting in the time and work it takes to sign these special young men,” Ray said.  They do a great job of identifying and recruiting future Bulldogs.”

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