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July 13, 2011The Mississippi State basketball team has a highly-recruited forward who hasn't played basketball in over one year and is steadily gaining weight, holding more pounds on his frame than he ever has in his life.
Renardo Sidney headline from last summer? No.
This time, it's Arnett Moultrie, the skinny, 6-foot-11 transfer from UTEP, who is actually trying to gain weight. And his year on the bench came because of that transfer.
After a few straight years with virtually no depth in the post, MSU and Rick Stansbury welcome Moultrie to a frontcourt with Sidney at just the right time and hopes are high for the pair.
Sidney understands Moultrie's position, too, as he too had high expectations after sitting out his first year at MSU.
Much like Sidney, it turns out, Moultrie was also unsure last summer whether or not he would play in his first year the university. He was attempting to earn an NCAA waiver to play immediately due to family issues concerning his grandmother, though it was ultimately not granted. Moultrie said it's much better now knowing for sure he will play as soon as the season starts.
"I still approached practice like I was gonna play someday," said Moultrie, who was a part of the scout team in practice last year. "I just came hard every day. I never took a day off. I can't wait. I'm really anticipating this Eurotrip."
The trip he speaks of, MSU's five game tour of Europe in August, should help him prevent the issue Sidney had with not being game shape after sitting out so long.
Moultrie said the trip will "get a couple of games under my belt" and get him ready for the season.
Of course, as Moultrie points out, it won't be his first international trip. This time two years ago he was on the USA U-19 team that won the Gold Medal in New Zealand. Moultrie led that team in rebounding and averaged 4.4 points per game.
Since that outing, Moultrie has gained 20-pounds, most of it this summer, he says. He is up to 240-pounds as of Monday and his goal is to play at 245 this season.
"I'm going through a case of Muscle Milk a week," Moultrie said. "I've never been this big. I've always wanted to get to this weight, but I never could."
At 6-foot-11, Moultrie was a thin 220 last year and even now he would never be mistaken for overweight. As for his game, Moultrie said he plans to be active on the court saying "I'm gonna do a lot of running and jumping," in what he coined as a run-and-gun offense.
He works out twice per day and says at the end of his second workout every day he won't leave until he has made 50 mid-range jumpers and 50 3-pointers, though he jokingly declined to share how long it takes him to make 50 of each.
Sidney has lined up against Moultrie in practice for a year now and he is excited about the potential the two of them will have in the frontcourt for MSU.
"It's great," Sidney said of his chemistry with Moultrie. "It's gonna be an amazing year. I love Arnett's game. He's a competitor. He hits the board, blocks shots, runs the floor. I think we're gonna be way better than we were last year."
Moultrie said he too enjoys playing with Sidney.
"We should dominate and get every rebound, dominate the board, dominate the paint," Moultrie said.
In most mock drafts, Moultrie is projected as a second round pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, though exposure and the gained weight may give him the opportunity to find his way into the first round. Fellow Bulldogs Sidney and senior point guard Dee Bost have also found themselves in mock drafts and it is those three who will likely determine how good or bad MSU is in 2011-12.
"We play really well together. It should be a good year for us," Moultrie said of the veteran trio. "Our mindset is a lot different. Our backs are against the wall. We have to win this year."