Goodridge Leaving Bulldog Program

Mississippi State's basketball roster is one more name shorter for the 2007-08 season, with the departure of Vernon Goodridge. The backup center confirmed Thursday evening that he is leaving the Bulldog program, the fourth underclassman off the 2007 team to exit after the spring semester.

"It's just a lot of factors," said Goodridge from his apartment in Starkville. "I'm going to go to a school closer to home."

Specifically and hopefully at LaSalle University in Philadelphia, Pa., the city where Goodridge attended prep school after a high school career in his Brooklyn, N.Y., home. "I have friends there," he said. "There's an incoming freshman from my home, and a couple of guys there who were on my AAU team. And the coach knows me."

Goodridge said he will leave Starkville this Sunday for Philadelphia. "I need to be there Monday so I can register for summer school and take classes." Goodridge completed final exams for the spring semester at Mississippi State last Friday, but only today did all final grades come out. Goodridge said he will be eligible to transfer and be on athletic scholarship at LaSalle. "I'm not sure what I'll be majoring in," he said,"we'll talk about it Monday when we get there." Goodridge was enrolled in industrial technology at State, and generally regarded as the team's whiz with anything electronic or technical.

Contacted both Thursday morning and afternoon by Dawgs' Bite regarding Goodridge's status, a subject of considerable but unpublished speculation the past two weeks, Coach Rick Stansbury said he wished to wait until Friday to comment on this and other team matters. Stansbury has not said if Goodridge has been granted a release to transfer.

Goodridge would have been a senior on the 2007-08 Bulldog roster, though he had only played two varsity seasons since arriving in fall 2005. He played prep school ball at Philadelphia Lutheran after turning 21, which per NCAA rules takes away one year of college athletic eligibility. He does have a season left to play.

Goodridge played in 29 games as a second-year junior, starting five during the SEC schedule. He averaged 8.2 minutes, 2.3 points and 3.0 rebounds, and in December put up a ‘double-double' against eventual NCAA participant Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. His playing time diminished in February and March and he did not see the court in the NIT semifinal game in New York City before the homefolk.

He does not especially want to leave Starkville and State. "I met a lot of people that I liked being around." But the prospect of more playing time and being closer to the family on the East Coast at this point of his career could not be turned down.

This latest departure leaves Mississippi State, which at one point looked to go into 2007-08 with one of the most experienced rosters in the SEC, suddenly shy of veterans. Previously, forward Bernard Rimmer and guards Reginald and Richard Delk—all juniors next winter--announced that they would transfer to other programs. Rimmer was to enroll at Georgia State; Reginald Delk has signed on with Louisville. Twin brother Richard has not found a Division I team to transfer to as of yet.

Stansbury signed three high school/prep school players in November with guard Ravern Johnson, guard/forward Kodi Augustus, and center Elgin Bailey. In April, guard Riley Benock also inked. All would enroll as freshmen this fall if certified. Johnson and Benock are not expected to have any issues with NCAA clearance, but Bailey will likely face routine NCAA and SEC review due to changing high schools in the last two years. And prep school product Augustus's situation is unpredictable in the current NCAA atmosphere.

Pending all the signees' eligibility, as of now Mississippi State has committed 11 of the 13 scholarships allowed men's basketball. Rhodes is now the lone senior on the 2007-08 roster, assuming he withdraws from the NBA's early-entry list by June 18. All-SEC G/F Jamont Gordon, who did withdraw from early-entry in April after getting a private evaluation of his draft outlook, and Johnson—now three full years out of high school--are junior Bulldogs for next winter. Varnado and guards Ben Hansbrough and Barry Stewart will be sophomores, with redshirted freshman guard Phil Turner.

While State does have two grants open and less than a week left to use them during the NCAA's spring signing period, which ends mid-May, there is another factor for the staff to evaluate. Losing four underclassmen takes away valuable points in the Academic Progress Rate (APR) system.

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