STARKVILLE – After serving the last two seasons as a graduate assistant, Mississippi State head coach Ben Howland has elevated Derrick Zimmerman to the program’s director of scouting & analytics announced Tuesday.
Zimmerman played a vital role in assisting with player development and opponent scouting during his two-year graduate assistant tenure where the Bulldogs posted consecutive 20-plus win seasons fueled by a 2019 NCAA Tournament appearance. Mississippi State also captured 10-plus SEC victories over the last two seasons for the first time dating back to 1994-95 and 1995-96 coupled with the program’s best finish SEC regular season finish in 2019-20 since 2010-11.
“I’m really excited to promote Derrick to the director of scouting & analytics role on our staff,” Howland said. “He was an integral part and did an outstanding job of communicating with our players as a mentor during the last two years as a graduate assistant while earning his master’s degree. Derrick possesses an excellent basketball mind and was a great player at Mississippi State. He bleeds maroon and has a great love for our program and the institution. It’s a real blessing for us to have Derrick on our staff, and he has an incredibly bright future ahead of him in the coaching profession.”
“Being able to continue my coaching career at Mississippi State means a lot to me,” Zimmerman said. “I had a chance to be a part of championship teams when I was a player here. It’s a blessing to be on this staff, and I’m thankful to Coach Howland for the opportunity to continue to pursue my coaching dream. What better place for me to be doing it than Mississippi State, a place I love and that’s dear to my heart.”
Zimmerman rejoined the MSU program after a 10-year professional career that spanned six countries after a successful four-year stint with the Maroon and White that included a pair of All-SEC selections during the 2001-02 and 2002-03 seasons.
Zimmerman, a native of Monroe, Louisiana, helped Mississippi State to three straight postseason trips highlighted by the 2002 and 2003 NCAA Tournaments. The Bulldogs also captured the 2002 SEC Tournament crown and the 2003 SEC Western Division title. His efforts also helped MSU to its highest win total in program history with a 27-8 mark in 2001-02.
Over his four-year career, Zimmerman left his mark on the program’s record book. He sits in second place with 514 career assists only behind Dee Bost. Zimmerman was the SEC’s assist champion in 2001-02 and 2002-03. He is one of three players in program history joining Chuck Evans and Detrick White, in addition to being one of eight players to lead the conference in assists during multiple seasons in SEC history.
Zimmerman garnered 205 career steals which is second-highest in program history only behind Ray White. At 6-foot-3, he also led the Bulldogs in blocks over his final three seasons and finished his career ranked among MSU’s top 10 in career blocks with 89.
Following his MSU career, Zimmerman was selected in the second round with the 40th overall pick by the Golden State Warriors in the 2003 NBA Draft. He played in the NBA D-League for the Columbus Riverdragons (2004-05) and Austin Toros (2005-06). In both seasons, Zimmerman was named the NBDL’s Defensive Player of the Year. He also collected All-NBDL Second-Team honors in 2004-05. Zimmerman saw time in two games with the NBA’s New Jersey Nets during the 2005-06 season before taking his talents overseas.
In December 2006, Zimmerman signed with the Brose Baskets of the Basketball Bundesliga in Germany. He finished out the season with Italy’s Air Avellino. In summer 2008, he signed with Budivelnyk Kyiv in Ukraine. He remained in Ukraine until 2013 where he played with BC Goverla, BC Kyiv and SK Dnipro-Azot Dniprodzerzhynsk. Between time in Italy and Ukraine, Zimmerman played a brief stint with HKK Široki in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Zimmerman returned to Germany in February 2013 when he signed with Giants Ludwigsburg and played with the club for the rest of the season. Then, he moved to Poland in January 2014 to play with Czarni Slupsk for the rest of that season.
Mississippi State won 11 of its last 15 SEC games to earn a top 4 finish in the conference standings, the program’s highest overall regular season finish since 2010-11. The Bulldogs have tucked away three consecutive 20-plus win seasons under Howland. The last time the program accomplished that feat was the 2007-08, 2008-09 and 2009-10 seasons. The 68 victories also are the fourth-highest total in program history for a three-year span.