By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
It was a long wait, but Arnett Moultrie finally got the call.
The forward from Mississippi State was selected in the first round of the NBA Draft on Thursday by the Miami Heat, 27th overall. The league champs then traded him to Philadelphia for the 45th overall pick and a future first-round selection.
The 76ers had their eye on Moultrie but passed him over at the 15th pick. The Memphis native was projected in several mock drafts to go well within the first 20 picks, but an odd night saw the likes of Duke’s Miles Plumlee and Syracuse’s Fab Melo taken ahead of him.
The 6-foot-11 Moultrie is the ninth MSU player to be taken in the first round and the first since 1996, when Erick Dampier and Dontae’ Jones were both drafted.
After two solid seasons at UTEP, Moultrie transferred to MSU. He had to sit out a year due to NCAA transfer rules but made the most of his one season in Starkville. He averaged 16.5 points and led the SEC in both rebounding (10.4 per game) and double-doubles (18) and was a first team All-SEC selection.
According to his salary slot, Moultrie could make as much as $1,042,320 his rookie season. He joins a Philadelphia team that went 35-31 and reached the Eastern Conference semifinals, losing to Boston.
A product of Raleigh-Egypt High School, Moultrie signed with UTEP, averaging 9.3 points and 7.5 rebounds in 70 games (67 starts). He left that program after head coach Tony Barbee took the Auburn job.
MSU is the only school in the country this year to have players taken in each of the three major drafts. Fletcher Cox went 12th overall to the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles, while Tupelo’s Chris Stratton went 20th overall to baseball’s San Francisco Giants.