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MSU releases Turner from scholarship

 

David Miller

 

STARKVILLE -- Phil Turner isn''t sure why he won''t be in a Mississippi State basketball uniform next season. 

 

Turner, an upcoming senior, confirmed Friday he has been released from his scholarship. 

 

He was notified through a letter mailed to his home.  

 

The guard from Grenada is unsure of his plans for the future after being released from his scholarship. He would have entered the 2010-11 season as the team''s longest-tenured player, having been a member of the team since 2006-07.  

 

Turner said he is four classes shy from earning his degree in educational psychology and had pushed back his graduation date. 

 

In a Friday conversation with MSU coach Rick Stansbury, Turner said the latter broached the topic of the team "trying to graduate him in June." 

 

"I would have if I didn''t have a scholarship in the fall," Turner said. "I''m not prepared to pay for school. I told him, ''I stuck it out with you for four years, bad and good, and you didn''t have enough decency to give me a phone call?''" 

 

Turner was working out in Atlanta when his mother called him after receiving the letter from the university. At first, Turner said he didn''t think much of it because he frequently receives inconsequential mail from the university.  

 

His mother read him the letter, but Turner chalked up the scholarship issue to not being in school for the June semester.  

 

He first called former MSU assistant coach Robert Kirby, who has accepted a job at Georgetown. He then called MSU assistant coach Marcus Grant. 

 

"He (Grant) was like, ''Kirby didn''t call you?'' " Turner said. "That''s when he told me Stansbury is not going to renew." 

 

According to Turner, at the center of Stansbury''s decision was a "rumor" circulating he wouldn''t return for his final season.  

 

Two scheduled postseason meetings between Turner and Stansbury didn''t take place. Turner said the first meeting was canceled at Stansbury''s request and never rescheduled, while the second was supposed to take place this month while he was in Atlanta. 

 

"My last time talking to Stansbury (prior to Friday) was the UNC (North Carolina) game (in the National Invitational Tournament)," Turner said. "No one from the office called to address these rumors. Coach Grant sent me a text in April and I told him specifically I''m coming back. I still have that text." 

 

After addressing the second meeting, called an "apartment meeting" by Turner, he said his role at MSU was discussed.  

 

Often playing as a power forward at 6-foot-3, Turner, who averaged 5.5 points and 4.3 rebounds a game last season, admits he hasn''t always been satisfied with playing out of position.  

 

Turner started three games last season but started 27 games and all of MSU''s Southeastern Conference games in 2008-09. He averaged 10.3 points per game in SEC play his sophomore season.  

 

Stansbury, who released a statement Saturday morning, confirmed Turner''s release was influenced by the two missed meetings.  

 

"This past season Phil had indicated to the basketball staff, our compliance office, and others he didn''t plan on coming back for a fifth year," Stansbury''s statement read. "He chose to not enroll in summer school and didn''t attend our year-end meetings, which forced us to make other plans. Phil''s a great kid, and I appreciate his efforts at Mississippi State. I''ll do everything I can to help him. We wish him the best." 

 

Mississippi State recently signed University of Texas-El Paso transfer Arnett Moultrie, putting the program one scholarship under the NCAA limit.  

 

Turner is uncertain of his plans. He said he and Stansbury did not discuss playing as a walk-on next season and his Division I transfer options aren''t available because he redshirted his freshman season. The NCAA''s rule is all players have five years to play four and Turner does not have a redshirt year to transfer. He could, however, transfer to any school outside of Division I.  

 

Additionally, the Bulldogs are awaiting the NCAA''s decision on point guard Dee Bost''s eligibility after he missed the NCAA''s withdrawal deadline for underclassmen entering the NBA draft.  

 

Should Bost be re-instated, the Bulldogs will enter next season at the 13 scholarship max. 

 

 

 

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