December 12, 2012 8:53:53 AM
Matthew Stevens - [email protected]
STARKVILLE -- Rick Ray's philosophy of not allowing off-the-court distractions to affect the Mississippi State University men's basketball program continued Tuesday with a player who hasn't arrived in Starkville.
Ray announced Tuesday that MSU has severed ties with 2013 early signee Quantel Denson after an incident occurred less than a month after he signed with the Bulldogs. Denson was released from his scholarship for what the school said in an official release was "failure to adhere to rules and regulations set prior to his signing back in November."
The 6-foot-9 forward from Mineral Area Community College (Mo.) was one of four players Ray signed less than a month ago despite already having a criminal record.
"We had a zero tolerance policy with Quantel, and he failed to live up to the obligations we had outlined for him," Ray said in the release. "We wish him the best for his future endeavors."
Denson was convicted of robbing Steve Eck, his former coach at
Hutchinson (Kan.) C.C., but he skipped a trial in lieu of pleading no contest to felony robbery and aggravated burglary after being charged on April 12, 2011. Due to his plea, the state of Kansas dropped charges of conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary and felony theft. Therefore, a judge withdrew the typical 60-day jail sentence in exchange for three years of probation. If the case had gone to trial, the two convictions carried a potential sentence of two to 11 years in prison.
Denson, who verbally committed to the University of Missouri out of high school, transferred from HCC to Mineral Area C.C. in Park Hills, Mo. He averaged 14.4 points and 9.5 rebounds per game as a senior at Grandview (Mo.) High School.
"Quantel is a rare talent because of his versatility, skill, and length," Ray said in November. "He can do a lot of different things on the court that will help your team win. He is a matchup problem for the opposing team because of his unique gifts. We are excited about what he will bring to the table here for us."
Ray has taken a more strict stance on rules violations since his hiring April 1, 2012. The approach is something MSU Director of Athletics Scott Stricklin wanted he searched for a new men's basketball coach. Ray released forward Kristers Zeidaks and guard Shaun Smith from their scholarships before the start of the 2012-13 season for violating unspecified team rules. With the team already down in numbers, he went through with a previously scheduled suspension for forward Colin Borchert for the Maui Invitational due to a violation of team rules. The suspension of Borchert left MSU with six scholarship players.
"I support and respect Rick's willingness to make difficult decisions," Stricklin said in a statement following the dismissal of Zeidaks and Smith.
Denson chose MSU over Marquette University, the University of Missouri, and the Oklahoma State University, among others.