On Thursday, the new Bulldogs coach announced former Auburn All-SEC standout Wes Flanigan will join his staff as an assistant after spending the previous two seasons under Doc Sadler at Nebraska.
"I've known Wes for a long time and recruited one of his AAU players when I was at Indiana State," said Ray, who also retained George Brooks from the previous staff. "I was really impressed with him then, and I'm even more impressed now. He's exactly what I was looking for.
"He has impeccable character. He's tough and he knows how to grind. He's really going to help us in the border states of Arkansas and Alabama in recruiting, and that was a huge criteria for me. Wes is a well-known name in this area and will resonate with our fanbase."
Flanigan has more than a decade of experience in the coaching ranks with stops at Nebraska, UAB, Arkansas-Little Rock and at Northwest Community College in Senatobia, Miss.
"I'm excited about being back in the South, in Mississippi and the SEC," Flanigan said. "I'm ready to get to Starkville and get to work. Obviously as a coach, I've grown a lot over the years. I just want to do whatever I can for Coach Ray to make Mississippi State the best it can be. The facilities are fantastic, and everything is in place to be successful."
At Nebraska, Flanigan worked with both post players and guards. Under his guidance, all three of the Huskers' primary post players two years ago shot better than 51 percent from the floor and combined for 86 blocked shots.
"He has that same competitiveness and toughness as an assistant coach that he did as a player," Sadler said. "I've been very blessed to have what I considered some of the best assistant coaches in the country, and without a doubt, Wes Flanigan is at the top of that list.
"I don't think there is anything Wes can't do when it comes to coaching. He can go anywhere in the country and recruit, but his greatest contribution is recruiting in the South."
Flanigan came to Lincoln after two years at UAB, where he worked primarily with the perimeter players. In 2008-09, the Blazers drained 228 3-pointers, the third-highest total in school history.
The Blazers went 25-9 in 2009-10, including an 11-5 Conference USA finish, before reaching the quarterfinals of the NIT.
Prior to his stint at UAB, Flanigan worked four seasons at UALR (2004-05 to 2007-08). In his final season with the Trojans, Flanigan served as associate head coach/recruiting coordinator, helping the squad to a 20-11 record. It was the team's second campaign with at least 18 wins with Flanigan on the bench.
A native of Little Rock, Ark., Flanigan spent five seasons as an assistant coach at Northwest Mississippi Community College, working with both the men's and women's squads. They combined for a 199-90 record, including an impressive 119-39 mark by the men's team. The NMCC men won two MACJC North Division titles and three Region XXII championships to advance to the NJCAA Tournament in Hutchinson, Kan., while the women made five postseason appearances.
After being named the 1992-93 Gatorade High School Player of the Year for Arkansas, Flanigan earned four letters at Auburn (1993-94 to 1996-97). He was team co-captain for three seasons and finished his college career averaging 10.1 points, 4.8 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game.
As a junior, Flanigan had a stellar season, averaging 13.4 points and 6.7 assists while earning All-SEC honors and being named the team's MVP.
Flanigan, and his wife, Katrina, have three sons: Michael Lewis, Allen and Collin.