April 27, 2010 10:26:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Mondays have been newsworthy days for Mississippi State athletics this year.
Greg Byrne''s announcement of his decision to leave for the University of Arizona came on a Monday, as did men''s basketball coach Rick Stansbury''s selection to turn down Clemson''s offer to become its new coach remain at MSU.
This week, that theme was continued when MSU guards Dee Bost and Ravern Johnson opted enter the NBA draft.
Neither player has hired an agent, and both will have the opportunity to return to MSU if they each pull their name out of the draft by May 8. Per NCAA rules Bost, a sophomore, can''t enter his name again in the draft and return to school after using the chance this year.
The deadline for early entrants to declare for the NBA draft was Sunday, though the NBA won''t release its list of entrants until later this week.
Bost and Johnson hope to gain insight on where they stand in the eyes of NBA talent evaluators, but Johnson''s benchmark for forgoing his senior season differs from most college juniors.
In the NBA draft, where a first-round pick is guaranteed a contract, a decision to leave early could come with riches or consequences. Surprisingly, Johnson said a projection to make the first round won''t affect his decision.
"They have me projected for the second round to undrafted, but I''d be fine with the second round because I think I could make a team," Johnson said Monday. "This year, I just wanted to see where I stand in my workouts and not be so overwhelmed next year. I''m leaning towards coming back, but it all depends on my workouts."
A message left for Stansbury was not immediately returned Monday.
Bost''s and Johnson''s decisions come a week after MSU wrapped up its 2010 recruiting class by signing Tennessee guard Jalen Steele. With the fall signing of Brian Bryant, MSU added two guards to the five on the roster.
Johnson, who averaged 13.2 points per game and shot 40.7 percent from 3-point range, said he was surprised with Stansbury''s decision to sign a pair of guards after front-court depth hindered the team last season.
"It was surprising, but from what I hear (Stansbury) signed two pretty good guards," Johnson said. "Coach wants to get the team ready for next season, and I can understand that."
While injury woes kept forward Elgin Bailey off the floor, backup point guard Twany Beckham and freshman shooting guard Shaun Smith each missed the season due to injuries.
As MSU witnessed last season, injuries can linger from one season to the next. Bailey''s ankle injury from March 2009 forced him to miss this season.
Smith also suffered his hip ailment in high school, and with the graduation of mainstay and defensive stalwart Barry Stewart, the Bulldogs should be ready if Beckham or Smith aren''t ready for the start of the season.
And with two starters declaring for the draft, the Bulldogs are better prepared if Bost or Johnson or both keep their names in the NBA draft.
Then there''s the scholarship issue.
The signing of Steele puts the Bulldogs one scholarship over the NCAA limit of 13. Other than Monday''s news of Bost and Johnson declaring for the draft, there''s no sign of how MSU plans to get under that limit by the fall.
Sophomore-to-be Renardo Sidney, who won''t be eligible to play until the 10th game of the season, is set to return to MSU after sitting out an NCAA investigation-ridden freshman year. Sidney''s attorney, Don Jackson, said the former McDonald''s All-American will be in an MSU uniform in 2010-11.
There''s a chance Bost or Johnson could end up like Jarvis Varnado, who paid for his senior season after testing the draft waters and returning to school. His scholarship was used to sign Sidney.
"I talked to our coaches and they were all supportive of me putting my name in the draft," Johnson said. "If I decide to come back, I don''t know what the plan is."
Johnson said he and Bost, who averaged 13 points and 5.2 assists per game last season, had been contemplating declaring for the draft.
"We were just talking about it one day, and I had no idea (Bost) was leaning toward it," Johnson said. "We both decided to do it at the same time."