By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
STARKVILLE – Two key members of Mississippi State’s backcourt the past two years are looking hard at the NBA.
Dee Bost and Ravern Johnson both have put their names on the early entry list for the 2010 NBA Draft, which will be held June 24. Neither has hired an agent, and they have until May 8 to withdraw their names if they want to play for MSU next season.
It was an unexpected move for the pair, who quietly declared about a week-and-a-half ago. But part of it might have to do with a backcourt that’s becoming increasingly crowded.
Said Johnson, a 6-foot-7 junior sharpshooter, “We’re signing a lot of guards, so something’s gonna have to give, because I think we had a pretty good backcourt right now. The frontcourt needs a little bit of work now.”
Lost to graduation after this season were center Jarvis Varnado, the NCAA’s career blocks leader, and shooting guard Barry Stewart, who also backed up Bost at the point.
Coach Rick Stansbury, who did not return a call seeking comment, has signed two guards in this class – junior college transfer Brian Bryant and high schooler Jalen Steele of Knoxville, Tenn.
So at the moment, MSU is one over its scholarship limit. It has until the first day of fall classes – Aug.18 – to get down to the limit.
Last year, Varnado declared for the draft but then pulled out. But he entered his name with the understanding that Stansbury would give his scholarship to someone else, which along with Jacquiese Holcombe’s transfer freed up scholarships for 2009 signees John Riek and Renardo Sidney.
Bost averaged 13.2 points and 5.2 assists last season. Johnson scored 13.2 points and shot 40.7 percent from 3-point range.
MSU reached the second round of the NIT, losing to North Carolina.
“I just felt like it was something for me to do right now at this time,” Bost said. “Just test the waters.”
Both players say they want to get a good idea of their draft stock, and if nothing else, Johnson said it could better prepare him for next year.
“I’m going to be a senior next year, so I don’t just want to go in there not knowing what types of things they do for the workouts and all that,” he said.
Neither player could say how likely it was he would return next season.
“It all depends on the workouts,” Johnson said. “I’m not going to say that I don’t wanna come back, because I want to play here. But it just all depends on that.”
The early entry deadline was Sunday night. Ole Miss players Eniel Polynice and Terrico White have also entered.
Contact Brad Locke at 678-1571 or firstname.lastname@example.org.