DAMPIER OPTS FOR PRO DRAFT

CATEGORY: Basketball

AUTHOR: STAFF

DAMPIER OPTS FOR PRO DRAFT

From staff reports

Mississippi State junior center Erick Dampier officially announced Friday that he is declaring himself eligible for next month’s NBA draft. This year’s draft will take place June 26 at East Rutherford, N.J.

“I am submitting my name into the NBA draft in order to begin gathering information about my possible draft position,” Dampier said Friday afternoon from the MSU campus. “I have no intentions of signing with an agent in the meantime, so that I may leave my options completely open about the possibility of returning to Mississippi State for my senior season.”

As per NBA guidelines, a player who declares for next month’s draft by the May 12 deadline has until the 48 hours prior to the draft to withdraw his name and retain his college eligibility.

A three-time all-Southeastern Conference performer for Richard Williams’ Bulldogs, Dampier averaged 14.5 points, 9.3 rebounds and 3.1 blocks per game this season in helping pace MSU to a school-first NCAA Final Four appearance, first-ever SEC Tournament championship, and school-best 26-8 overall record.

In being named to the Coaches’ and The Associated Press All- SEC first teams for the second consecutive season, Dampier ranked second among the league leaders in rebounding, field goal percentage (55.1) and blocks, while finishing 14th in scoring.

“Erick is basically in a situation where he can only make a positive decision at this time because of his expected high draft position, whether it be opting for the NBA or returning to school,” Williams said. “We are happy that Erick is able to be in this position where he can be very proud of the things he’s doing for Mississippi State University and the state of Mississippi. We will certainly be 100 percent supportive of whatever decision Erick and his family choose for his basketball future.”

Having started all but four of his 93 career MSU outings, including 78 consecutive starts dating back to his freshman season, Dampier has helped lead the Bulldogs to a three-year record of 66-27 and three straight postseason tournament appearances. For his career, Dampier has averaged 13.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per contest.

Dampier ranks 13th on Mississippi State’s all-time scoring list with 1,231 career points and is No. 4 with 859 career rebounds. As one of only four Bulldog players to have scored 1,000 or more career points and collected 800 or more career rebounds, Dampier also holds or shares all of MSU’s blocked shot standards.

Having broken his own single-season school mark with 106 blocks this past season, he is the school’s all-time leader with 249 career rejects.

With 33 career “double-doubles” to his credit, Dampier has connected on 58.7 percent of his career field goal attempts, including a school-high 148 dunks.

The 6-11, 265-pound Dampier, along with Bulldog frontline teammate Dontae’ Jones, are bidding to become the school’s first NBA first-round draft picks since Jeff Malone was selected as the No. 10 pick overall by the Washington Bullets in the 1983 NBA draft.

Former Bulldog standouts Rickey Brown (1980), Wiley Peck (1979) and Bailey Howell (1959) were also first-round draft selections. Howell was the NBA’s No. 2 pick overall in 1959 by the Detroit Pistons. MSU’s most recent NBA draft selection was Chauncey Robinson, who went in the fourth round (86th pick overall) to the Pistons in 1986.

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