Ervin May Be Too Hot To Handle

FAYETTEVILLE - What now? Hot potato?

There seem to have been plenty of head games involving Gary Ervin, the sophomore Mississippi State point guard who visited Arkansas last weekend.

While Bulldogs coach Rick Stansbury played dodgeball with the Mississippi media, Ervin tossed out different information to different outlets.

The two supposedly did not huddle to discuss Ervin's future until this week, yet Ervin was granted permission from MSU to take the NCAA-allowed five official visits to possible transfer destinations on April 11.

On April 13, he told the New York Daily News he was out of Starkville.

Same day, he told the Jackson Clarion-Ledger it was far from a done deal.

Meantime,'s Andy Katz reported that Stansbury would not issue a release for Ervin to join another Southeastern Conference team after sitting out only one season.

On Wednesday night, Stansbury told (a fan-based Web site) this: "Gary Ervin won't be back. We decided it was best for him and the Mississippi State basketball program that he transfer."

Thursday, Stansbury broke a long string of silent disrespect for local coverage by finally telling the Clarion-Ledger the same thing.

But what was the deal?

"Whether it's a personality situation or playing situation, we felt it was best for both of us to go our separate ways," Stansbury told the Clarion-Ledger.

You can bet it was both.

A hot-shot recruit from Brooklyn, Ervin hardly was impressive last season. In 29.2 minutes, he averaged 7.4 points and 2.4 rebounds. He was third in the SEC in assists with 4.7, but that included lots of inside lobs to big-timers Lawrence Roberts and Marcus Campbell. And he was just seventh in assist-to-turnover ratio (1.58 to 1.0).

More concerning are his awful shooting percentages - .383 from the field, .233 from behind the 3-point line.

A scat-quick dribbler, Ervin has talked of wanting more "leeway" to run. Plus, Jamall Edmondson, suddenly the starter for MSU next season, began to make a big transition last season.

"There were a lot of times last year when we felt comfortable having (Edmondson) in there late in games," Stansbury told the Clarion-Ledger.

That says lots about Ervin.

Reading into the reaction of MSU supporters, Ervin hardly was a fan favorite. After sitting the last 11 minutes of the Feb. 16 loss against LSU, Ervin stormed from the floor, leaving the MSU locker room before his teammates and coaches arrived.

He did not start the next game vs. Kentucky.

His body language - both from the bench and while on the floor - often made it clear he disagreed with Stansbury.

The Bulldogs, who made the NCAA Tournament for a school-record fourth-straight year last season (losing to Duke in the second round), return no starters.

But check out what Stansbury told the Clarion-Ledger about his young players: "I feel like they will do what we ask them to do."

Read between those lines.

And these: Stansbury now seems open to discussions that might allow Ervin to join an SEC rival after sitting just one season.

"I haven't made a decision on what I'll do about that," Stansbury told the Clarion-Ledger. "He can come to me about those situations and I'll be willing to talk about it."

Transferring from one SEC team to another is one thing. Linebacker Darren Hambrick jumped from Florida to play at South Carolina in the late-1990s.

You know then-Florida coach Steve Spurrier certainly wasn't concerned with the Gamecocks, even though both programs are in the SEC's Eastern Division.

Ironic how those tables have turned.

After Georgia football signee Michael Grant was denied admission from that university, Bulldogs coach Mark Richt helped broker the deal that brought Grant here.

Sure there are lots more examples, but those leap to this feeble mind.

This, though, could be a much different deal.

Stansbury's Bulldogs have become the top power of the SEC West, the same division, of course, that sports the Razorbacks, who proved with their 1994 national title that this should be a program to be reckoned with.

Fourth-year Arkansas coach Stan Heath has yet to take the Hogs to postseason play and almost certainly must do so this season to stick around. His program's getting a bit closer, but we all know point guard still is a desperate need.

Incoming freshman Sean McCurdy, expected to help immediately at the point, was not a true point guard in high school and he missed his senior season with a broken bone in his right foot.

He was in town this week to check the progress of it. We haven't gotten the word on that, but we did hear two things: McCurdy is all of 6-foot-2 (we'd been hearing that was a stretch), and he's a bit heavy for his frame, hardly uncommon for someone who sat out a season.

But not comforting still.

That brings us back to Ervin, although the soonest he could don an Arkansas jersey would be the season after next. If Stansbury allows it.

Thought here is no way Stansbury would pass along a slam-dunker a season early to a divisional rival.

Instead, has Stansbury's thinking turned to dishing out a problem to a rival?

Look, surely Heath was feeling out Ervin as much as the other way around. They may have parted ways for good last weekend. We have no idea what Heath is thinking because, as with high school prospects, he cannot comment on Ervin.

And we're not sure anybody knows what Ervin is thinking.

But after a bit of research, we can't help thinking Ervin's a bit too hot to handle.

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