October 13, 2010 11:04:00 AM
STARKVILLE -- Kodi Augustus feels like he''s making up for lost time as he prepares for his senior season as a Mississippi State Bulldog.
Through three seasons, the sharp-shooting forward feels he hasn''t had the experience he hoped for when he joined the team in 2007.
Augustus thought he would have accomplished more and developed into an NBA talent by the end of his junior year, or earlier.
Augustus became a full-time starter for the first time last season, and though he posted career-high totals in points and rebounds, he played the least amount of minutes of players in the starting five. As a result, he didn''t feel he did enough to establish himself as a potential pro.
"I didn''t think I would be in college for four years," Augustus said. "It''s not what I expected. I''ve worried about that, but I can''t change that."
Augustus has experienced his share of success as a Bulldog, most notably during the Bulldogs'' four-game run to the 2009 Southeastern Conference Tournament title. Augustus averaged 9.8 points and three rebounds and hit 50 percent of his 3-pointers during the run, which propelled the Bulldogs to the NCAA tournament.
Augustus'' career as a Bulldog also has been marked by an 11-game benching as a sophomore and a two-game suspension last season after he criticized MSU coach Rick Stansbury following an upset loss to Rider.
The opening-season rant created the perception Augustus was a volatile personality and a detriment to team chemistry, teammate Ravern Johnson said.
"Everybody has those moments and he just had his at the wrong time," Johnson said. "He apologized to the team and staff that same night, so all we did was forgive him and move on."
Johnson knows Augustus better than any other Bulldog because they were members of Stansbury''s 2007 recruiting class. They were roommates as freshmen and maintain a close relationship.
In those three years, Johnson has seen his friend grow more than those outside the program realize.
"When you first get here, you''re just a little hothead freshman and think you know everything," Johnson said. "But, as time goes on, you realize you got to listen to become the player you want to be. That''s been the biggest improvement I''ve seen in Kodi."
As one of three seniors on MSU''s squad, Augustus acknowledges his position as a team leader. However, his status as one of the team''s elder statesman hasn''t changed his training or preparation methods. As he sees it, the working example he provides for the team''s eight freshmen and juniors is sufficient.
Last year''s post-Rider rant, which cost the team a starter for two games, shouldn''t affect coaches'' or teammates'' confidence in his ability to lead.
"It showed how much I care about winning and losing," Augustus said. "That''s no disrespect to Rider, but I hated to lose that game.
"It''s something that''s in the past and it sucks that it happened, but I think it showed how much I care about the game, the team and how passionate I am about it."
Augustus, who will graduate in May, is keen to improve his rebounding and scoring around the basket. If Elgin Bailey''s return from knee and ankle surgery is hindered, or Renardo Sidney struggles to adapt in his first season of college ball, Augustus could contribute at the five. Augustus struggled last season backing up center Jarvis Varnado when the Bulldogs ran a four-out, one-in system.
However, Augustus is confident he could play a variety of roles for the team this season.
"I just need to be more consistent," Augustus said. "Every part of my game could be better, but literally improving every part of my game has been my focus, whether it''s rebounding, playing defense or being more aggressive going to the basket.
"Depending on how this season goes, I think I have a chance to play at the next level."
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