Mississippi State coach Rick Ray has dismissed guard Shaun Smith and forward Kristers Zeidaks for “repeated violations of team rules,” the school announced today.
Smith, a 6-foot-6 junior from Noxubee County, has had an injury-filled career at MSU. He averaged 1.0 points and 0.6 rebounds in 34 career games. Ray had been high on him all summer and was expected Smith to compete for a starting job at the three guard spot.
Zeidaks, a 6-8 junior, was a transfer from Riga, Latvia, and never played due to an NCAA-mandated suspension. He was ruled ineligible all of last season as well as the first 11 games of this season because he played with and against professionals in his home country. Zeidaks, too, was expected to be a major contributor this season.
“This is an unfortunate situation for Shaun, Kris and our team,” Ray said in a statement. “However, players must be held accountable for their actions. Both will remain on scholarship and have the academic support all our other student-athletes receive. I wish them the very best moving on with their careers.”
MSU athletics director Scott Stricklin told the Journal, via text message, “I support and respect Rick’s willingness to make a difficult decision.”
Less than a month ago, Ray talked excitedly about what Zeidaks and Smith could bring to the table this season. Of Zeidaks, Ray said, “That’s one thing I’m really excited about, the fact he can come in and physically help us right away.”
And of Smith, he said, “The kid that I’ve been really pleased with, has really bought into the program and done everything he’s supposed to do and just looks like a really good basketball player in the individual workouts, is Shaunessy Smith.”
This leaves Ray with 10 scholarship players. One of those, freshman point guard Jacoby Davis, is likely out for the year after injuring his ACL this summer. Freshman guard Fred Thomas recently underwent surgery for a stress fracture in his foot but should be back in time for the season, which begins Nov. 9 at Troy.
MSU had a lot of attrition after the 2011-12 season, Rick Stansbury‘s 14th and last as MSU head coach. Starting forwards Arnett Moultrie and Renardo Sidney left a year early to turn pro – Moultrie was drafted, Sidney was not – and then starting guard Rodney Hood transferred to Duke, and backup point guard DeVille Smith transferred to Jackson State.
MSU opens preseason practices Oct. 12.