By Brad Locke/NEMS Daily Journal
After one very productive season at Mississippi State, Arnett Moultrie is turning pro.
The 6-foot-11 forward said Wednesday that he will forego his senior season and enter the NBA Draft, where analysts are projecting him as a late first-round selection. The decision came after Moultrie met with athletics director Scott Stricklin on Wednesday morning.
Moultrie hasn’t yet signed with an agent but expects to soon. Once he fills out the draft paperwork, there’s no turning back, because he declared for the draft in 2010 as well, while playing for UTEP.
NCAA rules state that a player who declares twice for the draft in a career is ineligible to play college ball again. Moultrie is expected to do the paperwork next week.
“I have enjoyed my time at Mississippi State University, and I will never forget the people I met and got to know,” Moultrie said in a statement. “Nor will I ever forget my coaches and teammates. Keep me in your prayers, and I will keep Bulldog Nation in mine.”
Moultrie did not return messages seeking further comment, nor did Stricklin. In his statement, Moultrie said he consulted with his family and coaches before making the decision.
The NCAA allows players to wait until April 10 to declare for the draft. The NBA’s deadline isn’t until April 29.
After two seasons at UTEP, the Memphis product transferred to MSU. He had to sit out his first year on campus, per NCAA rules, but then made a splash once he took the court.
Moultrie averaged 16.4 points – second in the SEC – and a league-leading 10.5 rebounds per game. His 18 double-doubles led the SEC. In his final college game, Moultrie scored a career-high 34 points in a first-round NIT loss to Massachusetts.
His departure is not unexpected. Moultrie’s stock has risen rapidly since donning an MSU uniform, and there’s more room for growth. Chad Ford, an NBA Draft analyst for ESPN.com, said Moultrie could be considered underrated.
During a live chat Wednesday, Ford wrote, “I think there is a lot of distaste for Mississippi State and that’s coloring his draft stock. If he did what he did this year at Kansas or Syracuse or Georgetown, he’d be a lot higher on our Big Board. Once he gets into workouts and gets that Mississippi State jersey off, he could really rise.”
Moultrie is the third player this week to leave the program early. On Monday, junior forward Renardo Sidney decided to leave early and go pro, and freshman guard DeVille Smith left the team with the intent to transfer to either Jackson State or a junior college.