By waiting until the week practice begins to finalize his schedule, Mississippi State coach Rick Stansbury has outsmarted a nine-game NCAA penalty that would have pushed junior Dee Bost’s season debut deeper into SEC play.
Bost was given a nine-game suspension for failing to withdraw from the NBA draft by the new May 8 deadline. The Bulldogs’ starting point guard is also academically ineligible for the fall semester.
But Stansbury still had a few games to schedule while he was waiting to get Bost’s decision from the NCAA. He also had the ability to move a November game to December to give Bost a chance to start the SEC season on time since the NCAA starts counting Bost’s suspension after Dec. 11.
Stansbury accomplished every goal.
The Bulldogs moved a game against Alabama State from Dec. 4 to Dec. 14, so it’ll count as one of the nine games Bost will be forced to miss post-first semester. And then Stansbury secured a game against Sweet 16 team Saint Mary’s on Dec. 29 in Las Vegas, as Mississippi State returns from playing in the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu.
The moving around of the schedule means Bost will make his season debut in the Jan. 8 SEC opener against Alabama, instead of waiting until Jan. 13 at Ole Miss or possibly Jan. 16 against Auburn.
Meanwhile, Stansbury also scheduled an exhibition for Dec. 15 in either Starkville or Jackson, Miss., to give heralded sophomore Renardo Sidney, who is serving a nine-game amateurism penalty, some sort of competition before he makes his season debut Dec. 18 against Virginia Tech in the Bahamas.
So here’s the breakdown. Sidney and Bost will miss these first nine games:
Nov. 12 – Tennessee State
Nov. 19 – Appalachian State
Nov. 22 – Detroit
Nov. 26 – Troy
Nov. 30 – Florida Atlantic
Dec. 11 – East Tennessee State
Dec. 12 – North Carolina A&T
Dec. 13 – Nicholls State
Dec. 14 – Alabama State
The Bulldogs will then play an exhibition with Sidney on Dec. 15. And will play these next five games with Sidney but without Bost:
Dec. 18 – vs. Virginia Tech in Bahamas
Dec. 22 – vs. Washington State (Honolulu)
Dec. 23 – vs. Baylor or San Diego (Honolulu)
Dec. 25 – vs. Butler, Florida State, Hawaii or Utah (Honolulu)
Dec. 29 – vs. Saint Mary’s in Las Vegas
Bost might have missed 16 games had Mississippi State not added and moved around games. Instead he will miss 14 (and no conference games) for the SEC West favorite.
“We just have to survive those games at home before we get Sidney,’’ Stansbury said. “Then it all turns up. Once he’s eligible, it’s all quality games.’’
Stansbury said the Bahamas-to-Hawaii-to-Las Vegas trip is daunting, but if “we’re not going to be in Starkvegas for Christmas, this was a pretty good option. These are some good cities with all good teams.’’
The Bulldogs return guard Ravern Johnson alongside Bost, as well as Kodi Augustus inside. State will count heavily on Sidney inside, and in Bost’s absence will likely look to Brian Bryant, a JC point guard. Freshman Jalen Steele will also be in the backcourt rotation, as will sophomore Twany Beckham (possibly the starter in Bost’s absence) and redshirt freshman Shaun Smith.