STARKVILLE — Friday brought mixed news for the Mississippi State men”s basketball program.
MSU confirmed junior forward Romero Osby will transfer from the school his father attended, which will put the team at 13 scholarship players for next season.
Following Osby”s announcement, Mississippi State got its first 2011 verbal commitment from Jackson Callaway guard Marquavius “Deville” Smith.
The loss of Osby, who said he is unsure of where he will transfer, immediately affects the Bulldogs frontcourt. The team returns senior Kodi Augustus, sophomore Wendell Lewis, junior Elgin Bailey and sophomore Renardo Sidney. However, Sidney must sit the first nine games due to NCAA punishment following investigation into improper benefits and Bailey is coming off a year where he never totally healed from a dislocated ankle suffered in spring 2009.
And until Friday, Mississippi State had been one player over the limit with the recent signing of Tennessee guard Jalen Steele.
Osby, who came to state as a highly-touted forward from Northeast Lauderdale high school, averaged 4.3 points and 2.5 rebounds per game in 35 appearances last season. However, he drew just three starts in his two seasons with the team.
A team press release said Osby is free to transfer to an non-Southeastern Conference school and can only attend another SEC school if approved by MSU.
With a unique skill set at 6-foot-8 and 230 pounds, Osby said the reason for his transfer came down to how he fit in with the Bulldogs style of play.
He shot 41 percent from behind the 3-point line last season but didn”t feel like his versatility was being used.
“I just feel like my versatility needed to be showcased, and I don”t feel like I had that chance to do that in the system,” Osby said. “The guys that played ahead of me are good players, but I felt like I didn”t have an opportunity to show what kind of player I can be.”
Osby said his relationship with the MSU coaching staff is good and that they understand why he wants to transfer.
Said Stansbury in the release: “He”s a good kid, and I wish him nothing but the best.”
Now one man down in the post, State is keen to see point guard Dee Bost and swingman Ravern Johnson return for the respective junior and senior seasons after declaring for the NBA draft last Sunday. The duo haven”t hired agents and have until May 8 to withdraw from the draft.
Osby is the 12th player to transfer from MSU since the 2002-03 season.
In Smith, the Bulldogs have landed their point guard of the future in the 5-foot-11 state champion. Smith averaged 22.4 points per game and led the Callaway Chargers to a second straight state title.
“I feel like that I can lead our team to another state title,” Smith said. “I love proving everybody wrong, and I”m trying to make history with another state title. The coaches at Mississippi State, I think they like the fact that I can lead. They want someone whose won championships on their team.”
State”s guard-oriented attack over the last two seasons appealed to Smith.
“I feel like their guards run the scene,” Smith said. “I”m looking forward to being a part of that.”
Smith said Arkansas, Baylor and Tennessee recruited him the hardest, but it was MSU”s pursuit that eventually made him commit to the Bulldogs.
Smith is one of many sought-after Mississippi recruits in the loaded 2011 class. Yet to commit are Meridian forward Rodney Hood, Cleveland East Side”s Johnny O”Bryant, and former Jackson-area small forward LaQuinton Ross.