Mississippi State's Arnett Moultrie will begin his professional career with the Philadelphia 76ers. He was selected by the Miami Heat with the 27th overall pick of the NBA Draft on Thursday night, and then the NBA champs dealt him to Philly for the 45th overall pick and a future first-round selection.
The 6-foot-11 forward is the first Bulldog taken in the first round of the NBA Draft since 1996, when Erick Dampier (10th, Indiana) and Dontae' Jones (21st, New York) both were selected. Moultrie is the seventh MSU player in history to go in Round 1, although he went a good bit lower than a lot of people expected; several mock drafts had him going in the top 15 or 18 picks.
As the 27th pick, Moultrie's salary slot for his rookie year is $868,600, and he can make between 80 and 120 percent of that number. Philadelphia went 35-31 in a lockout-shortened season and lost to Boston in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
The last MSU player to be drafted was Jarvis Varnado, who was selected by Miami in the second round in 2010.
In his one season at MSU, Moultrie averaged 16.4 points (second in the SEC) and a league-high 10.5 rebounds. He recorded 18 double-doubles, shot 54.9 percent from the floor and made 78 percent of his free throws en route to earning first-team All-SEC honors.
He scored 20 or more points 11 times, including a 28-point, 12-rebound effort against LSU on Jan. 25. In his final game as a Bulldog, Moultrie scored a career-high 34 points in a first-round NIT game versus UMass, but MSU fell short to end its season at 21-12.
It was a tumultuous season for State, and for Moultrie. On Feb. 27, a frustrated Moultrie called out his teammates, saying, "Everybody's got their own agendas," and he didn't believe the Bulldogs could pull out of their slump. They won two in a row after that but then lost to lowly Georgia in the first round of the SEC Tournament and then to UMass at home.
Moultrie transferred to MSU from UTEP, where in two seasons he averaged 9.3 points and 7.5 rebounds in 70 games (67 starts). He left after coach Tony Barbee took the job at Auburn, and Moultrie apparently didn't see eye to eye with new coach Tim Floyd. Per NCAA rules, Moultrie had to sit out the 2010-11 season at MSU, and he spent the time well, developing his shot, working on ball handling and adding some muscle.
At Raleigh-Egypt High School in Memphis, Moultrie averaged 15 points, eight rebounds, four blocks and four assists as a senior while shooting 73 percent from the floor. He was the all-regional MVP as a junior and senior.