As the Mississippi State Bulldogs look to make one more statement to the NCAA tournament selection committee during this week’s SEC Tournament, they’re getting great contributions from a freshman who is expected to play a big future role for the Bulldogs, Team Trae Young alum Shawn Jones Jr.

Shawn did it again in Thursday’s SEC Tournament opener for Mississippi State. The ninth-seeded Bulldogs were locked in a tight battle with the eighth-seeded Florida Gators, which went to overtime.

About two minutes into the extra session, a turnover by Florida gave Mississippi State numbers going the other way. Guard Dashawn Davis controlled the ball and held two defenders, allowing Shawn to run the floor, get to the backside of the defense uncontested and Davis lobbed him a perfect alley-oop for a thunderous dunk that put the Bulldogs ahead by five.

It was the second highlight reel breaking play of recent vintage for Shawn. Just a few weeks ago he contributed a ridiculous chase down block against Missouri in another game that went to overtime.

“He makes plays where you go, ‘Wow,” Mississippi State coach Chris Jans said.

It’s part of an increasing role Shawn has been playing for Mississippi State down the stretch this season, particularly over the last month. Since February 8th, Shawn is averaging 14.4 minutes per game while posting 5.3 points per contest, better than two rebounds per game, along with four steals and three blocks over that nine-game stretch.

He posted his first career double-digit scoring game on February 28th with 11 points on 3-of-5 from the field and 2-of-4 from three despite playing just 15 minutes in a 74-68 victory over South Carolina. In the two games since, the regular season finale against Vanderbilt and Thursday’s SEC Tournament opener against Florida, he played 20 minutes each game. Prior to that he had never played more than 16 minutes in a game.

“I’m very comfortable and confident now,” he told the Clarion Ledger. “I feel like that’s going to be a big part of what’s going to make me who I am. I’ve just got to keep the confidence and stay humble.”

Shawn is embracing his expanded role and making an impact, and with a good run this weekend, he could keep doing that right into the NCAA Tournament.