Exit strategy… Sidney turns pro, Smith leaves, Moultrie mulls NBA

By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal

The attrition continues for Mississippi State basketball.
Renardo Sidney and DeVille Smith are both leaving the program, it was announced Monday. Sidney, a 6-foot-11 junior forward, has signed with an agent and will enter the NBA Draft. Smith, a freshman guard, has withdrawn from school and will transfer.
And the roster might be reduced further. Junior forward Arnett Moultrie is pondering entering the NBA draft, and he said he’ll make that decision on Wednesday, “right after” he meets with athletics director Scott Stricklin.
Moultrie would not say whether MSU’s ongoing search for a new coach was a factor in his decision. State is seeking a replacement for Rick Stansbury, who retired on March 15 after 14 seasons at the helm.
With Sidney and Smith leaving, MSU has seen 18 players exit the program since 2005 before their eligibility expired. That’s the most in the SEC.
Sidney’s exit isn’t too surprising. He had been pondering it for several days and is currently in Florida training.
“I appreciate Mississippi State giving me an opportunity to play, but I feel it’s time for me to move on,” Sidney said in a statement. “I’m grateful to all the administrators, coaching staff and the fans for their support during my time at Mississippi State. I’m entering the draft to follow my dream of playing in the NBA and to help my family.”
Sidney could not be reached for further comment.
Sidney’s career at MSU began under inauspicious circumstances. The NCAA launched an investigation into his amateur status and, 10 months later, concluded that Sidney had accepted impermissible benefits in high school and also lied to the NCAA during the probe.
So he had to sit out his entire freshmen season, plus the first nine games of the 2010-11 campaign. Shortly after debuting, he got in a well-publicized brawl with then-teammate Elgin Bailey, which earned Sidney a two-game benching.
Smith, a backup point guard from Jackson Callaway, submitted his withdrawal paperwork on March 19, according to a team spokesman. Yet, he was in class on Monday, according to Callaway coach Wayne Brent.
Brent said that Smith will likely transfer to either Jackson State or a junior college.
Smith’s lone season in Starkville was marked by occasional flashes of brilliance, then a poor finish to the season. He was twice hospitalized after suffering dizziness, headaches and memory loss – the second time for two-plus weeks in the middle of the season, costing Smith six games.
He averaged 4.2 points and 1.9 assists, shooting 39.8 percent overall and 23.5 percent from 3-point range.
Smith is the third member of MSU’s 2012 signing class to leave the program in the last eight months. D.J. Gardner was dismissed in August for conduct detrimental to the team, and Shawn Long transferred to Louisiana-Lafayette after the fall semester and never played a minute for State.
With Smith gone, MSU now has a big question at point guard, what with four-year starter Dee Bost graduating.
Signees Josh Gray and P.J. Hardwick both play point, but Gray has reportedly asked for a release from his scholarship to pursue other options. It hasn’t been granted, and if it is, it won’t be until after MSU has hired a new coach.
brad.locke@journalinc.com