Catching Up With Charles Rhodes

Former Mississippi State hoopster Charles Rhodes is in Starkville today, visiting old friends and coaches. I caught up with him via cell phone, and we chatted about his ankle, his NBA dreams and the 2009 MSU recruiting class.

Rhodes, a 6-foot-8 forward who averaged 17.4 points and and 7.8 rebounds per game for MSU in 2007-08, was not selected in the 2008 NBA Draft. He caught on with the Dallas Mavericks but was cut just before the season began. So he went and played in Latvia. Now he’s hoping to get back in the big leagues.

“Now people really get to see the real Charles Rhodes. When I was with State and the Mavs, I was 70, 75 percent,” he said. He’s referring, of course, to the ankle injury he suffered in December of 2007, his senior year. He put off surgery and kept playing on what he recently found out was not just a severely sprained ankle, but a broken one. Doctors in California looked at it and, according to Rhodes, “They’re amazed I’ve played on it as long as I have.” He plans on having surgery within the next couple of weeks.

Rhodes didn’t want to talk about his NBA chances, saying he’s focused on the surgery, possibly taking summer classes at State and generally enjoying life.

Rhodes is quite excited about the possibilities for MSU in 2009-10, though. The return of Jarvis Varnado coupled with a highly rated recruiting class has created high expectations among the fan base, Rhodes included.

“Anything less than the Sweet 16, they shouldn’t be satisifed. Because they’ve got the pieces to the puzzle now,” he said. “They will be dancing in the Final Four, believe that one.”

Rhodes said he spoke often with Varnado when the latter still had his name in the NBA Draft pool, and he was hoping to hang out with the nation’s leading shot blocker this afternoon. He thinks Varnado’s decision to return for his senior year was at least partly influenced by Rhodes’ decision to do the same two years ago.

“Jarvis is a smart guy. Jarvis loves basketball, and he loves Mississippi State just like I loved it.”

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