Roberts Returns to MSU

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Reigning SEC Player of the Year and first-team all-American Lawrence Roberts has withdrawn his name from the NBA Draft in order to return to Mississippi State University for his senior season of competition. Roberts made the announcement Thursday afternoon from his home in Houston, Texas on the final day that early entrants could pull out of next week's NBA Draft.

A 6-9, 235-pound forward/center, Roberts became Mississippi State's first consensus first-team all-American since NBA Hall of Famer Bailey Howell (1958-59) as well as the school's first-ever John R. Wooden Award All-American this past season. Tabbed the 2003-04 SEC Player of the Year by both The Associated Press and the league's head coaches, Roberts ranked as the SEC's No. 7 scorer (16.9 ppg) and second-leading rebounder (10.1 rpg; 11th in the NCAA) a year ago in becoming the first Bulldog player since Rickey Brown (1979-80) to average a double-double for an entire season. He tied for fourth nationally last season with an SEC-leading 16 double-doubles, including eight in regular-season conference play.

"I will be returning to Mississippi State next year for my senior season," Roberts said Thursday from his Houston home via a live television interview with ESPN News. "Either way this was a win-win situation and I'm blessed to be in this certain situation. It came down to basically trying to weigh every option and knowing this is ultimately the biggest decision right now in my life. I just wanted to take it as serious as possible and take as much time as I could," he continued.

Roberts helped lead coach Rick Stansbury's 2003-04 Bulldogs to Mississippi State's first outright SEC regular-season championship since 1962-63 with a 26-4 overall record and school-record 14-2 conference mark, which included an undefeated (8-0) record in league road competition. Enroute to establishing new school standards with a fourth straight postseason tournament appearance and third consecutive NCAA Tournament berth a year ago, MSU earned its highest NCAA Tournament seeding (No. 2 in Atlanta Region) in school history in addition to collecting the school's highest season-ending AP ranking (No. 8) since 1962-63.

Formerly a two-time, all-Big 12 selection with the Baylor Bears prior to transferring to MSU last summer, Roberts enters his senior campaign having totaled 1,400 career points (16.3 ppg) and 821 career rebounds (9.5 rpg). The three-year starter ranked fourth nationally among active NCAA Division I players last season with 38 career double-doubles.

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