Gary Ervin, who was the starting point guard for Mississippi State last season, has decided to transfer from that school and has Arkansas at the top of his list of possible destinations.
Ervin, a 5-11, 170-pound native of Brooklyn, N.Y. that will be in Fayetteville on Friday for a weekend visit, makes no secret that he likes Arkansas' future prospects.
"Personally, Arkansas is the toughest place I've had to play at and I think their program is really on its way up," Ervin said. "They are very athletic, very talented and right there as far as being a great team. All they really need is a point guard and I think that I could fit right in."
Ervin, an All-SEC Freshman pick his rookie year, averaged 7.4 points and 4.7 assists (3rd best in the SEC) and 30 minutes a game while starting 33 of 34 games as a sophomore last season for the Bulldogs.
He is a former high school star that averaged 30 points and 10 assists per game at Paul Roberson High for former MSU guard Todd Myles.
Ervin once scored 30 points in the last 4:46 of a game in which he put in 56 points overall.
He then poured in 17 points and dished out seven assists at Notre Dame (Mass.) Prep before signing with Mississippi State.
As a freshman, he backed up Timmy Bowers as the Bulldogs (26-4) won the SEC and then ended up falling 89-74 to Xavier in the second round.
"I think I have done a lot of good things on the court and had some ups-and-downs as well," Ervin said. "But I think the best thing that has happened to me in this last two years is the fact that I have changed as a person, grown much more mature and really become far more focused in the classroom."
Ervin, who has been given permission by Mississippi State to talk with other schools, is also considering UTEP, Rutgers, Seton Hall and Marquette and recently got a call from Wake Forest.
He would have to sit out a year - as Mississippi State is giving him a release - but would have two years left to play beginning in 2006-2007.
"Rutgers and Seton Hall are both schools back home, but I think Arkansas is the best situation for me," Ervin said. "Right now they are in real good shape with me and that's why I have set up this visit. I just think there style of play fits me really well. They at least look to break at every opportunity and push it, although they have the ability to slow it down when needed as well. They get out in the passing lanes really well on defense and that's something I enjoyed watching them do when I wasn't playing against them."
Ervin, who was seventh in the league last season in assist-to-turnover ratio, is one of nine scholarship players that Mississippi State is likely to have to replace.
The Bulldogs graduated four seniors, all three freshman from last season - Jarrell Houston, Walter Sharpe and Charles Rhodes - have announced they are transferring and prized high school signee Monta Ellis has announced for the NBA.
This is after a 23-11 season that started out with a 14-2 mark and ended with a 63-55 loss to Duke in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
"I don't really have too much comment on what all's going on, but I'll just say that everybody has to do what is best for themselves in this situation," Ervin said. "Other than that, I don't really want to comment on it."
Ervin had double digit assists games on four different occasions with a career-high 14 against Florida and his best overall game being a 15-point, 10-assist performance in a 87-76 win at Ole Miss.
He did struggle down the stretch, failing to reach double figures in either scoring or assists in his final seven games and shot 38.3 percent overall, 22.3 from the 3-point line and 70 percent from the free throw line.
However, one of the highlights in that stretch was hitting a game-winning shot in his team's 57-55 win at Arkansas that sent the Razorbacks emotionally skidding at the end of the season.
"I didn't play as well as I could at the end of the year for a lot of reasons, but I never quit working hard and trying to help my teammates be successful," Ervin said. "That will be my philosophy next year as well."
Arkansas has signed 6-2 New Jersey prep point guard Sean McCurdy, 6-9, 235-pound Mississippi prep power forward Cyrus McGowan and 6-6, 190-pound shooting guard Ryan McBride of Monterey (Calif.) Peninsula College.
McBride's signing - which happened Tuesday - was officially announced on Thursday.
"One area we wanted to address for next year was three-point shooting and Ryan McBride's numbers were very impressive," Heath says. "We feel like he can give us a boost. He's also a good player in other areas such as passing, defense and rebounding."
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