Stansbury Confirms Delks Departing

Mississippi State anticipated assembling a 2007-08 lineup and rotation from a Bulldog roster featuring as many veterans as any squad in the SEC, or for that matter the land. Now, Coach Rick Stansbury will have to do a bit more rebuilding than planned following the departure of a pair of starters from this past year's tip-off team.

Late Monday afternoon, Stansbury confirmed to Dawgs' Bite weekend reports, first heard Friday, that sophomores Reginald and Richard Delk and second-year forward Bernard Rimmer have chosen to leave the team and school. Mississippi State later released an official statement from the coach as well, saying most of the same things Stansbury did to D.B. "We're releasing them to transfer to other schools," Stansbury said, emphasizing there are no hard feelings.

"They're all good people and we wish them the very best. They're looking for more minutes and bigger roles than are currently available on this team." All will have to sit out a season in Division I under transfer rules.

Rimmer's transfer had been expected and Stansbury, without naming him at the time, had effectively told D.B. last Thursday the Grenada native would be going to another program for more playing time. Rimmer visited Georgia State over the weekend and will transfer to the Atlanta school.

The departure of the Delk twins was the bigger news, as both were regular starters this past season--Reginald at two-guard and Richard at small forward. The brothers requested their official release last week, during the time Stansbury was having individual post-season meetings with all Bulldog players. When talking to Dawgs' Bite last Thursday about the general tone of those player meetings Stansbury said things had gone well, but he also added that if he needed "to cut any fat" from the squad he would.

That cryptic comment, which he did not expand on at the time, resulted from another meeting with the Delk family on campus. Thus Stansbury was not surprised by the brothers' request for a release, which was granted. Contacted over the weekend, Stansbury chose not to comment on-the-record until today when the release process had run its course.

Stansbury added he has "no clue" where the Delks are considering transferring to.

Reginald started all 35 games as a sophomore, averaging 26 minutes and 9.5 points for the season and finishing second on the team in three-point goals with 63. He had set the MSU record for treys by a freshman in 2005-06. Richard started 33 times in 2006-07, missing tipoffs only at LSU and in the home regular-season finale with Alabama. He averaged over 23 minutes and 5.7 points with 30 treys.

However, both starters were rarely on the court at the end of Bulldog games in the last two months of the season due to the emergence of freshmen guards Barry Stewart—who broke Reg Delk's rookie record for treys—and Ben Hansbrough. Their overall minutes also declined slightly throughout SEC season, though at the time neither expressed unhappiness with how playing time was being split or what the outlook for the future was.

In fact, prior to the team leaving for New York City and the National Invitation Tournament, Reginald Delk told Dawgs' Bite he was looking forward to the next season with a veteran roster. "Oh, yeah, we're going to have a great team next year," Reginald Delk said. "We're looking forward to winning championships."

The Delks, and Rimmer, leave Starkville having played their parts in winning one championship, the 2007 SEC Western Division, as well as helping State reach the semifinals of the NIT.

Rimmer played only 78 minutes in 13 games as a soph, after seeing action in 20 games—with one start—as a freshman. While Stansbury often praised Rimmer prior to last season for his athleticism, the limited winter action resulted in steady speculation he would not return for a third year at State; particularly after State signed three players in November with only two scholarship seniors on the roster, meaning somebody was going to be leaving if all three qualified.

Now the Delks' departures leaves two scholarships available for use in this spring semester recruiting period which began April 11 and runs into mid-May. Talking last Thursday, Stansbury would not rule out signing another player this spring even though at the time all 13 scholarship slots were officially spoken for. That was another hint of news to come and reflected that the staff, anticipating new needs, was already going to their lists of available prospects not signed in November.

As of now the scholarship roster includes: seniors C/F Charles Rhodes and C Vernon Goodridge; junior G/F Jamont Gordon; sophomores G Ben Hansbrough, G Barry Stewart, C Jarvis Varnado; redshirt sophomore F/C Brian Johnson; redshirt freshman G Phil Turner; and incoming freshmen G Kodi Augustus, C Elgin Bailey, G Ravern Johnson.

Though State will lose some valuable experience in the backcourt with the Delks, Stansbury is just as upbeat about the chance of next year's team to contend in the SEC and return to NCAA Tournament play. Though the coach would not say it so bluntly, the implication was Stewart and Hansbrough will only get larger roles and more minutes as they mature, while redshirt Phil Turner is being groomed to spell Gordon on the point. And the addition of former Mississippi prep Player of the Year Johnson strengthens the perimeter more. Rimmer was simply caught in the numbers game on the front court and unlikely to take time from Rhodes or Varnado, or redshirt Johnson and rookie Bailey.

"I like the mix of players we have coming back and the guys we've signed," Stansbury said. "And I think after this past year we now have most of our roles defined."

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