Fresh Start: Mississippi State’s Arnett MoultriePosted by Brian Joyce on October 17th, 2011
The Fresh Start series will profile a new coach or eligible transfer who will make an impact in the Southeastern Conference this season. The first in the series is former University of Texas El-Paso player and current Mississippi State center/power forward, Arnett Moultrie.
Arnett Moultrie has never been the talk of the town. He was overlooked coming out of Raleigh-Egypt High School in Memphis, Tennessee. He did not rank in Scout’s Top 100 recruitment rankings in 2008, Rivals Top 150, or ESPN’s recruitment rankings. How does Moultrie respond to the lack of chatter about him? “It’s been that way my whole life,” he said, “I use it as motivation.”
Moultrie played two seasons at the University of Texas El-Paso averaging 8.8 PPG and 8.2 RPG in his freshman year (2008-09) and 9.8 PPG and 6.7 RPG in his sophomore year (2009-10). When then head coach Tony Barbee left UTEP to begin a rebuilding project at Auburn, Moultrie decided it was time to transfer after a relationship clash with new Miners coach, Tim Floyd. With steady improvement and the benefit of an extra year of practice, Moultrie has the potential to make the Mississippi State Bulldogs one of the best teams in a tough SEC in 2011-12. Despite the attention on troubled big man Renardo Sidney, the emergence of MSU as an SEC contender is more contingent upon the development of Moultrie.
Mississippi State has an optimistic view and tons of talent coming back. The Bulldogs return starting senior point guard Dee Bost and attention-grabbing junior Sidney. Yet even last year, Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury described Moultrie, his 6’11” transfer, as “the team’s best player.” Now that we are getting a glimpse into what Moultrie can do in an MSU jersey, it is easy to see why Stansbury would make this claim. In a five-game European tour this summer, Moultrie led the Bulldogs with 16.8 PPG and 11.2 RPG, with over half of his rebounds coming on the offensive end. Stansbury was impressed, saying, “it seems like every shot was taken, he felt it was his offensive rebound or he went to try to get it.”
Others are beginning to take notice of Stansbury’s impressive frontcourt. ESPN college basketball analyst Andy Katz said, “you’ve got Renardo Sidney and Arnett Moultrie (and) if those two guys can stay on the floor and play together that’s (as) imposing a full line as potentially anybody in America.” And of course Stansbury has high praise for Moultrie, adding, “well, the one thing that was consistent is his engine runs and that is one of the greatest abilities anybody can have. When you have some ability to go with that then you have a chance to be a pretty good player and that’s what I think he is.”
Moultrie’s hard work is about to pay off. He is poised for a breakout year, which should bring all-SEC accolades and a call from David Stern at the NBA draft podium next summer. Usually when someone is talking about the Mississippi State Bulldogs, they are talking about Sidney and the circus act that follows him. However, in the 2011-12 basketball season, people will tire of the drama and will instead start to take notice of a hardworking and talented Bulldog star who lets his play do all the talking. And that means a lot of people in Starkville, Mississippi (and beyond), will finally be talking about Arnett Moultrie.